WORDS FROM THE FRONT
Bob Guccione, Jr
Peter Duesberg believes HIV doesn't cause AIDS. Is he the heretic
the medical establishment claims, or a 20th-century
Galileo? Bob Guccione, Jr. tries to find out.
In March 1987,
Dr. Peter Duesberg, professor of molecular biology at the University
of California, Berkeley, and one of the world's leading experts
on retroviruses, a field he helped pioneer, wrote in Cancer Research
that he didn't believe HIV, a retrovirus, caused AIDS. He argued
that HIV was too inactive, infected too few cells, and was too difficult
to even find in AIDS patients to be responsible. And since the virus
is notoriously difficult to isolate, antibody detection became the
indicator of infection-something Duesberg protested is highly inconsistent.
Antibodies dominant over a virtually unfindable virus has always
meant the immune system has triumphed over the invader, not capitulated
to it. Finally, there were AIDS cases without any HIV, virus or
antibody, further weakening the hypothesis. The Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) swept those under the carpet by changing the definition
of what an AIDS patient is to necessarily include HIV infections.
But hundreds of HIV-free, certified AIDS cases surfaced again at
the 1992 International Conference on AIDS, and now total over 4,000.
This time the CDC changed the name of the disease. Duesberg contends
it's AIDS nonetheless and changing the name only further distracts
from the likelihood that HIV doesn't cause it.
and continues to be assailed for his views. Science progresses by
debate but, AIDS, suffused with overtones of life-style criticism
and moralizing, became as much a social issue as a medical one.
Truth became subjective and relative and as hard to pinpoint as
an exit in a house of mirrors. At first, the medical establishment
tried to dismiss Duesberg, then, when that failed, became obsessed
with him. Each advancement and understanding of detecting the virus
was trumpeted as crushing Duesberg but never succeeded in doing
so. "They move the goalpost," he said repeatedly, "but
they don't change anything." A number of the world's top scientists
began agreeing with him, including Kary Mullis, the inventor of
PCR, the most elaborate HIV detection machine: He believes HIV doesn't
cause AIDS. Duesberg's credentials are impeccable. He is a member
of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of an Outstanding
Investigative Grant from the National Institutes of Health in 1985.
He was a candidate for the Nobel Prize for his work in discovering
oncogenes, thought to be a cause of cancer, in viruses. But he derailed
his chances of winning when he cautioned that his findings did not
prove that there were cancer genes in cells, as was popularly theorized
at the time (and still an unproven theory). An insane move for a
scientist's career but an exemplary act of ethics.
Duesberg over the course of a month, beginning in his cramped office
in his Berkeley laboratory and continuing through hours of long
distance telephone cross-examinations. As the government health
agencies still fail to produce a single effective treatment, a vaccine,
or even proof of how HIV is supposed to bring on AIDS, Professor
Duesberg's skepticism about HIV and his hypothesis about what he
believes are the real causes of AIDS become ever more important
SPIN: Why do
you think HIV doesn't cause AIDS?
Dr. Peter Duesberg:
Every virus I've ever seen gets its job done by killing a cell at
a time, and when it has killed enough, you get sick. HIV is said
to be responsible for the loss of T-cells, which are the immune
system. Now, in every AIDS patient studied so far, there is never
more than, on average, one in 1,000 cells infected by HIV.
How many cells
in 1,000 would another virus infect-for instance a flu virus?
If it would
cause flu, then 30 percent of your lung cells are ruined by the
virus, the lining is gone, or is infected. If you have hepatitis
almost every single cell in your liver is infected.
A lot of very
bright scientists are working in AIDS and they don't all have dubious
agendas and they must have asked themselves the same questions.
If HIV doesn't kill a lot of cells, why is it widely believed to
be the cause of AIDS?
it all these unprecedented, paradoxical properties that no other
virus ever had. They say it can kill cells indirectly, or can induce
something called autoimmunity, which essentially is, the virus sends
out a trigger and the body is now convinced to commit suicide. Or
they say there are cofactors, if you really press them hard on it.
But what they are has yet to be determined.
is the argument that HIV triggers autoimmunity?
It is very
implausible indeed. There are a million Americans with HIV who are
totally healthy. There are six million Africans according to the
World Health Organization who have HIV; 129,000 had AIDS by the
end of last year, that means five million eight hundred and so many
thousand had no AIDS. Half a million Europeans have HIV and 60,000
have AIDS. So there are millions and millions of people on this
planet who have [HIV but] no AIDS-why don't seven-and-a-half million
get autoimmune disease if HIV is the cause of an autoimmune disease?
Well, the establishment
says that everybody with HIV will develop AIDS and it's just a matter
In the last
ten years this has happened in America to about 20 percent of all
people with HIV, 250,000[including deaths to date] out of a million.
But the people who are dying from AIDS are hardly ever your all-American
friends of 20 to 40 years of age: Virtually all heterosexual Americans
and Europeans who had AIDS are intravenous drug users. And the homosexuals
who get AIDS had hundreds if not thousands of sexual contacts. That
is not achieved with your conventional testosterone. It is achieved
with chemicals. Those are the risk groups, they inhale poppers,
they use amphetamines, they take Quaaludes, they take amyl nitrite,
they take cocaine as aphrodisiacs.
What is it
about intravenous drug use as opposed to ordinary drug use, like
snorting cocaine, that would mean theses people would go on to develop
It's a matter
of degree. With drugs, the dose is the poison. You take one aspirin,
you lose your headache, you take 200, you drop dead. You smoke one
pack of cigarettes, you're fine, but if you smoke two packs of cigarettes
for 10 or 20 years, you may get emphysema. It is the same with drugs.
If you snort a line of cocaine on a weekend, you probably won't
notice the difference. But if you inject it intravenously two or
three times a day, that's when the toxicity shows up. We're designed
to take some shit. But we're not designed to inject cocaine three
times a day. People have been having a little cocaine in their tea
in South America, yes, but not injecting it three times a day, and
nobody was inhaling nitrites-nitrites are toxic as hell. Nobody
was taking amphetamines at those doses; they were not available.
That's what's new.
But back to
this argument about HIV. Viruses can only work one way. They can
only be toxic if they affect a cell. They cannot work at a distance.
There's no exception. Viruses are what you call an intracellular
parasite. They don't have an autonomous life. They are just a little
piece of information that is stuck into a cell and acts like a parasite.
But outside of the cell it's like a disc outside a computer.
So is there
any precedent of a virus creating an autoimmune disease?
There are a
few hypotheses, but no. When a doctor doesn't know how to explain
a disease, he has two classical crutches: it's a slow virus or it's
an autoimmune disease. I've heard that for the last 20 years. When
they didn't know what diabetes was, it was a slow virus or an autoimmune
disease. Alzheimer's: slow virus or an autoimmune disease. And with
AIDS, slow virus, causing an autoimmune disease. You have both!
disease is a misdirected immune response. It cannot tell a harmful
virus from a harmless one, it overreacts. If the virus were the
trigger, that should follow as soon as the virus gets in you. Not,
as they say about AIDS, you get infected now, ten years later you
get diarrhea. It's totally absurd.
Is it possible
that AIDS could be an autoimmune created disease, but HIV isn't
Some of the
AIDS diseases could possibly be autoimmune diseases. Certainly not
all. 38 percent of American AIDS cases have nothing to do with immune
deficiency. 38 percent. 10 percent are Kaposi sarcomas, 19 percent
are this so-called wasting disease.
in Africa a lot, the slim disease?
it's somewhat different, it's usually coupled with infections. But
the American or European wasting disease is actually specifically
defined as a nonparasitic disease.
Anyway, 6 percent
is dementia, 3 percent is lymphoma cancer. If you add those up,
that's 38 percent of all American AIDS cases. Out of 250,000, that's
about 100,000-their diseases cannot be explained by any form of
Why is it considered
of the questions I would love to know the answer to. I have asked
several experts; they always get mad. AIDS is always presented as
if it's all immune deficiency. It is not at all. Cancer has nothing
to do with immune deficiency.
So what is
the common denominator between all of the 25 AIDS diseases?
name it AIDS, that's all. None of these 38 percent have anything
whatsoever to do with immunodeficiency, but they're called AIDS.
one AIDS disease that's new. What is new is only the incidence of
these diseases in 20-to 45-year-old men, mostly, and a few women,
has gone up.
thought the 25 diseases that form the AIDS syndrome had the common
denominator that they were the results of the Immune system's inability
to stave them off.
they try to sell it without looking at the evidence. But cancer
is not a consequence of immune deficiency. Dementia has nothing
to do with the immune system. Your brain is independent of the immune
system. Of course, if there's no immune system, and your brain gets
infected, you can get meningitis. But it doesn't affect your IQ.
Sure, in the end, if everything fails you can get all sorts of diseases.
Even if you
accommodate the virus with all sorts of absurd and paradoxical hypotheses-indirect
mechanisms, and cofactors, autoimmunity, a ten-year latency period-even
that doesn't get you around the solid number of 4,621 HIV-free AIDS
cases [worldwide, a third of these in the U.S.]. How do you explain
those? You couldn't have a better alibi than being there! And that
is suppressed. Here we have a real cover-up. Last year the numbers
of these cases was going up like crazy, and Anthony Fauci [director
of National Institutes of Health [NIH], and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention [CDC] called a meeting. And you know what
they did? They gave it a new name. They call it "Idiopathic
CD-4 lymphocytopenia." Or ICL. When you're HIV-free now, it's
no longer called AIDS.
cases that don't have HIV, but the 250,000-plus cases that remain
do have HIV.
you think. How do you know that?
By their physicians
So who tells
us that they have been tested?
A guy goes
to his doctor, clearly very ill, he has AIDS. He's tested or was
tested earlier on and is found to be HIV-positive.
Even now, there
is no record, anywhere, that says in how many American AIDS cases
HIV was actually found.
But in every
AIDS case, the CDC would know whether or not the patients were HIV-positive,
because the physicians reported it.
to believe this by the CDC, but the evidence that HIV is there,
they never disclose. Nowhere in the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report,
as they call the national statistics kept by the CDC, do you ever
find HIV data. No survey on HIV at all. All they talk about is AIDS.
And then you read a little more of the fine print, how AIDS is defined.
They accept what you call "presumptive diagnosis"- AIDS
cases without HIV tests. You know what that means? The guy wears
a leather jacket, has an earring, and is coughing. And he's from
San Francisco. That's an AIDS case. I don't even have to check it,
his physician thinks.
wrote a letter to Harold Jaffe [acting director of the Division
of HIV/AIDS at the CDC]. He acknowledged 43,606 presumptive diagnoses
up to 1988. I checked the literature and came up with 62,272 until
Let me get
this straight, you're saying between 43,000 and 62,000 of the cases
of AIDS up until 1992 were not tested, which means we have no idea
whether or not they were HIV-positive.
They may or
may not have been HIV-positive.
in the latest AIDS definition, in January 1993, they allowed presumptive
diagnosis. In other words, a good number of them even now will be
reported without and HIV test.
perception is that all cases of AIDS have HIV, that a case is not
defined as AIDS without the presence of HIV, which would mean, by
definition, that somebody tested them.
assume, like you do, that everyone [with AIDS] is positive. That's
not the end yet. We have what is called false-positive antibody
tests. They call them HIV tests, but you know what you're testing.
The antibody can be there and the virus could be long gone.
there are crossreactions, where the antibody might react to, say,
malaria or arthritis and that's mistaken for engaging HIV?
people vaccinated for the flu. Blood donors, ten recentlyseven out
of ten were positive for HIV.
Did they have
How do we know
they didn't have the virus?
They were checked
a half a year later, and the test was negative. There was no virus.
12 million blood donations are checked. The donors are treated preferentially;
they don't want them to get the flu so they give them a flu vaccine
free. Seven out of ten of those guys then tested after the flu vaccine
turn out to be "positive" for HIV. They didn't have HIV,
the flu vaccine crossreacted with the HIV antibody.
How often is
the test false?
The test can
be wrong over 50 percent of the time. If you just repeat it, half
of them fall out immediately. But if you look at a group on newly
recruited soldiers, one in 100 tests positive, and when you check
them again, one in 1,000 remains positive.
incredible. That means only one out of every ten that tested positive
is actually positive.
You see, that's
the point: The idea that everybody who has AIDS is known to have
HIV is far from the truth. There's a significant percentage who
are totally untested. And the tests are often unconfirmed, and even
if they are confirmed, they are only antibody tests. There are a
number of people who even have a positive Western Blot-the more
reliable antibody test-but when you look for the virus it's still
In San Francisco,
there are three people, false positives, who found out now they
have no HIV, but were treated with AZT, which is designed to inhibit
the virus. And AZT, as we all know is extremely toxic. And they
have AIDS now. They have pneumonia, they have pneumocystis-exactly
like AIDS-and they have no virus.
it was because of AZT.
they're suing for.
you have called AZT "AIDS by prescription.
It's AIDS by
design. It was designed over 20 years ago as a chemotherapy. And
chemotherapy is a rational but desperate treatment for cancer. The
rationale is, Let's kill all the growing cells for several weeks.
The hope is the cancer is going to be totally dead, and you are
only half dead and recover. Chemotherapy is a rough treatment. You
lose your hair, you lose weight, you get pneumonia, you get immune
deficiency, you literally get AIDS, you have nausea, all the AIDS
symptoms, because it's severe cellular intoxication. You kill a
lot of good cells, too. Often the treatment works, the cancer is
indeed dead and you survive and recover.
Now you give
that drug to somebody indefinitely. Not just for two or three weeks.
Every six hours, your HIV-positive person takes 250 mg of AZT. So
they lose weight, they become anemic, they lose their white cells,
they have nausea, they lose their muscles. Like Rudolf Nureyev,
they cannot even stand on their own legs. And then they die. Like
Kimberly Bergalis, Nureyev, Arthur Ashe, Ryan White, and many others.
That's what you call AIDS by prescription.
issue even more fundamental we scientists have never discussed:
Is AIDS actually an infectious disease or not? You see, you can
"acquire" a disease in two ways. Either by a microbe-and
then it's an infectious disease; then you can pass it on, sexually
or otherwise-or you acquire it from the environment, that is, by
toxins, like you acquire lung cancer from smoking or liver cirrhosis
from drinking. Those are two entirely different mechanisms of getting
a disease. So how do we tell them apart? The infectious diseases
have one thing in common: Without one single exception, all infectious
diseases are always equally distributed between the sexes. Zero
exceptions. From measles to mumps, syphilis, gonorrhea hepatitis,
tuberculosis, all infectious diseases follow soon after contact.
Microbes don't mess around. They have a generation time of hours
or at very most a day or two. That's their built-in generation time.
They grow at that rate. There is no other way. They can't do it
faster and they can't do it slower.
You are 75kg
of meat to them. Nothing more, nothing less. And they convert it
within days to themselves, that's what they do. There's not one
authentic exception, where you get infected today and get a disease
ten years later.
And it certainly
doesn't happen ten years after antibodies are made. Antibodies are
an indication that the body has noticed the guys and knocked them
Isn't the argument,
though, that the immune system is losing the battle? The antibodies
may be there, but the T-cells are being depleted, so the immune
system is actually losing the battle?
Only if the
virus has ever overwhelmed the immune system, but it hasn't. The
immune system does beautifully. It knocks the virus out to a level
where nobody can find it. [Dr. Robert] Gallo and [Dr. Luc] Montagnier
had a hell of a time finding it. Because it was gone. That's why
we look for antibodies in the AIDS test. It can't find the virus.
That's the third point-again, no exception to that rulewhere you
have an infectious disease, the microbe that is responsible for
that disease is abundant, very active in many cells.
this recent discovery that large quantities of HIV are in the lymph
doing is using a bigger scope, the polymerase chain reaction, which
amplifies a needle in a haystack to a haystack itself. So now you
can all of a sudden see it. And they say, isn't it great what we
can see with a new scope. Well, the problem is, you don't help the
emperor a lot if you can see his clothes only with a microscope.
All they're doing is applying bigger and bigger scopes. They magnify
the needle, but they don't make more of it, they only see it better.
saying is if a man is six feet tall, and you put him on a cinema
screen, it doesn't mean he's really 20 feet tall.
Now, what's the prediction for a non-infectious disease, a toxic
disease? One of them is, it's not distributed equally between the
sexes or randomly in the population, it's distributed according
to exposure. The smokers are the ones who get lung cancer, the nonsmokers
hardly ever get it. The alcoholics get the liver cirrhosis and not
the milk drinkers. And so it's exposure to the toxin. The health
consequences are not immediate. You don't get sick from one cigarette.
It takes years of build-up. You have to reach a certain threshold
this explains the so-called latency period.
That is the
classical relationship between drug consumption and the disease
that follows. Unlike the infectious agents, which work immediately
about AIDS is that there are lots of people who do drugs and don't
It's the dose.
There's a genetic constituency, some people are more resistant than
others. But very roughly, it's a cumulative thing. It's a certain
threshold you have to reach and that varies personally. Now look
at AIDS. It fits none of the criteria of an infectious disease-not
equally distributed, not soon [manifested], no active microbe, nothing
is there. You can't find HIV even if people are dying-you can, tiny
the 10 percent of AIDS patients that are women?
Those are drug
Okay, the statistics
say something like 75 percent of the women have some kind of recreational
drug history, or were HIV-positive and went on AZT. That sill leaves
about 25 percent that don't have a drug history.
if you talk 25 percent out of 10 percent, you're talking 2.5 percent.
And now here we come to the definition of AIDS. AIDS is 25 old diseases
under a new name in the presence of HIV. These diseases do occur
with or without HIV.
Is there a
difference in the manifestation of, for instance, tuberculosis,
in a case where a woman has tuberculosis and HIV, and a case where
a woman just has tuberculosis?
None that I
Woman A has
tuberculosis, no HIV. Woman B has tuberculosis and HIV; she is said
to have AIDS. Now, are there any physical differences?
No. In terms
of diagnostic features, it's the same.
the same? And they should, if they're both of average health, either
recover or die at the same pace?
It should be
exactly the same. The only thing is that because HIV is rare in
this country, only one in 250 Americans, 0.4 percent, are HIV-positive,
and because it's so difficult to pick up, the odds are that he or
she may have been one of those people who have practiced risk behavior,
or been receiving transfusions.
B is not a prostitute, is not promiscuous, is not an intravenous
and has tuberculosis? That would be exactly the same as the woman
without HIV and tuberculosis. Totally the same.
saying is woman A and woman B are identically sick. So we can challenge
the readership of the magazine that if anyone out there has AIDS
and is HIV-positive but hasn't done any risk behavior, they should
contact us and let us look at their case history, and we would learn
a lot if such a person who doesn't come from one of the risk groups
has HIV and has developed AIDS. Have you scrutinized the case history
of any patient who has AIDS,
and doesn't come from a risk group?
They are extremely
rare. Those are the cases like Kimberly Bergalis. They give them
AZT and then it's finished.
Bergalis [the Florida woman who contracted HIV from her dentist]
get AZT before or after she had AIDS?
She had a yeast
infection, that was her diagnostic disease, which is not so rare
in women. And antibodies for the virus.
After her HIV
diagnosis, they gave her AZT. She was otherwise healthy, except
for the yeast infection?
Tell me a woman
with a yeast infection needs blood transfusions for anemia. Tell
me a woman with a yeast infection who loses 30 pounds in a year.
Tell me a woman with a yeast infection who loses her hair and needs
a wheelchair because of muscle atrophy. How many women fit that
description? I've never heard of one.
And all she
had at the time of prescription of AZT was a yeast infection. Are
you sure of that?
They said the
yeast infection was first and then she later also had some kind
of a pneumonia and they don't say when they started her on AZT.
But I have yet to ever hear of a 21-year-old that needs blood transfusions
for pneumonia or a yeast infection.
the bone marrow, doesn't it?
Of course it
does, it kills the red cells. Anemia is the fist direct effect of
AZT toxicity. If you have no red cells. Anemia is the first direct
effect of AZT toxicity. If you have no red cells, you can't pick
up oxygen. You're in trouble, my friend.
Is a transfusion
itself very immunosuppressive?
Well, one or
two transfusions are not going to make a very big difference. It's
a problem for hemophiliacs who get it regularly and keep getting
foreign proteins over and over and over. You get proteins from somebody
else, that's suppressive to your own immune system.
at Arthur Ashe from the public perception: heterosexual, non-drug-user,
former athlete, has a blood transfusion following bypass surgery.
He discovers he has HIV from the transfusion. He develops AIDS and
clearly dies from it. How do you explain that?
had the virus since 1983, that's when he had transfusions for surgery.
And in '88, he was put on AZT and later on ddI. Last December, he
looked like he came from Auschwitz. He was emaciated, he was unfocused,
he couldn't answer questions well. That's why he got pneumonia;
a sportsman at 49 doesn't die of pneumonia, but an AZT victim like
Kimberly Bergalis does.
So before he
took AZT, he was healthy?
course, this congenital heart condition which was pretty well taken
care of. The plausible cause of death considering his background
would have been some heart problem. But not a pneumonia. Like others
who took AZT and died way too early, he was a typical example of
an AZT victim. Another note about Arthur Ashe: He had the virus
in 1983, he died in 1993, ten years later, his wife happens to be
HIV-negative. In ten years, he couldn't transmit HIV to his wife?
It's a sexually transmitted disease, remember, officially.
used a condom-
In '83, you
didn't even know what HIV was. And he certainly didn't use a condom
when he fathered his daughter [now 5]. Maybe he used a condom in
the last two years with AZT-probably didn't need a condom 'cause
one of the consequences of AZT is impotence.
You told me
that when they transport HIV for researchers to study it, they transport
it in T-cell cultures, but the T-cells don't die. Explain that.
In 1984, in
Science, Gallo said HIV kills T-cells and that is the cause of AIDS.
Also in 1984, in May, he signed under oath to the U.S. Patent Office
that this same virus can be produced in permanently growing human
T-cells. And these T-cells are still growing in his laboratory,
in dozens of companies on this planet, enough to conduct at least
25 million tests per year in this country alone, over 20 million
in Russia, millions all over the world. These T-cells have yet to
But some must
of the virus. Sometimes they die because people don't treat them
right. But if they keep them going, they go and go and go. If the
virus were toxic to human T-cells by itself, in any way whatsoever,
these cells would all be dead. And it's not only T-cells, you can
use B-cells, you can use monocytes, and skin cells and nose cells.
There is no toxicity whatsoever detectable to that virus to human
cells in culture.
Is there any
difference between the virus that is mass-produced and the virus
that is found in the body?
Let me go back
to HIV 101, if such a thing exists. The orthodox standpoint is that
when people are exposed to the virus, at some point-it can be as
long as ten years-they start to lose T-cells, their immune system
diminishes. The T-cells disappear to a chronically low level. Now,
you say it is something else that is causing the diminishing of
the T-cells and it is coincidental to have HIV.
I think. I support that in two ways. There are a million Americans
with HIV and their T-cells are normal, they don't disappear, they
are not depleted. Six million Africans are said to have HIV normal
T-cells, minus those who get AIDS, that's a small fraction there.
HIV is one
of the most harmless viruses you could possibly have. Retroviruses
in fact were the last ones to be discovered, at least in humans,
and that actually says something about them. Viruses and microbes
were historically discovered by the diseases that they caused. It's
not that people looked to see what could we find through a microscope.
They were looking for something that could cause tuberculosis or
syphilis, and now AIDS. The last to be found were the retroviruses,
because they never do anything.
We found the
polio virus by taking infected cells from a polio patient; we took
an AIDS patient's infected cells and found HIV. Where is there a
you look at the polio patient and you look in the right place you
find abundant virus. You look in the nerves when they are paralyzed
you look in the guts when they have diarrhea and fever, you find
plenty of virus. Now you look in the AIDS patient and you are in
trouble. Gallo was in trouble. The only one who saw it, and barely,
was Montagnier in '83-he got some viruses out of there. You can
squeeze them out but it's an enormous job, because there is little
or no virus.
If I understand
you correctly, if you isolate the polio virus, and you apply it
to healthy cells, it will infect those cells.
It will kill
those cells in eight hours.
And if you
apply HIV to healthy cells, what will happen to them?
cells will continue to live exactly as if they were uninfected.
basically seems to be a squatter virus, it doesn't want to kill
anybody in the house, it just wants to move in.
That is the
reason why we have chased retroviruses so dearly in the last 20
years, because we thought they might be a cause of cancer. Because
they don't kill cells. That's why Gallo is a retrovirologist, or
David Baltimore [Nobel Prize-winning researcher who discovered reverse
transcriptase] or me. We were chasing this class of viruses as possible
carcinogens. Cancer is
caused by cells
that grow out of control, not by cells that are dying.
HIV never claims
more than one in 1,000 cells every other day. And every two days
you replace 3 percent of your cells. That is at least 30 out of
What is depleting
the immune systems of people with AIDS?
Well, it clearly
can't be HIV, it's got to be something else. There is too little
HIV even in people dying from AIDS to explain the loss of these
many cells. The AIDS establishment actually gives me credit for
that question, but they are always "just solving it about now."
And for $4 billion [the annual AIDS budget] they slowly solve that
problem, but they haven't solved it yet.
So it's got
to be something else. I have an alternative hypothesis, that in
all those Americans and Europeans with AIDS who don't have congenital
clinical problems like hemophiliacs, acquired clinical problems
like people who are ill and needed transfusions, it's drugs in some
way or another. Virtually all heterosexuals with AIDS are long-term
cocaine and heroin users. And orally consumed drugs, which includes
to some degree cocaine, but mainly the ones that are used by the
gays as aphrodisiacs, or to facilitate anal intercourse, like the
nitrite inhalants, ethyl-chloride inhalants, Quaaludes, PCP, LSD,
Ecstasy, and all of the combinations of things that they're using.
a specific cause, I mean it doesn't help if you take too many of
The worst of
all is AZT. 200,000 people take AZT now in this country every six
hours just for having the virus, for being antibody positive. You
don't need any further explanation; that kills the bone marrow right
or heroin kill your immune system?
Well, the long-term
effects haven't been studied well. The shortterm effects is what
everybody studies. There are, however, numerous studies that show
that as of early in the century, a long-term junkie had pneumonia,
weight loss, dementia, diarrhea, mouth infections, fevers, endocarditis,
those are the typical junkie diseases. If you are drug addicted
you don't even want to eat, you're flying and you don't sleep. Insomnia
are the primary
causes of immune deficiency in the world.
have always been described with the same diseases that are called
AIDS now. Even way back from the Opium Wars in China, the classical
picture of the opium addict is this emaciated guy sucking on his
opium pipe. He doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, he's high, he's losing
weight, and he ends up with pneumonia or tuberculosis.
How do you
explain the Kaposi's sarcoma cases, where do they come from?
That is a key
argument for my hypothesis that AIDS is caused by drugs. The nitrites
are the key drug used by promiscuous homosexuals. Amyl nitrites,
butyl nitrites, and other nitrite derivatives are highly carcinogenic
substances. So they enhance the cancer risk and guess where the
kaposi's are? In the face, the lung, the hand. That's exactly where
they put the stuff. They put it in the hand, inhale it, and then
you get Kaposi's sarcoma.
teenagers with AIDS?
780 in the
United States in the last ten years, so divided by year that's 78
per year in a country with 30 million teenagers. A third are hemophiliacs,
another third are gay prostitutes, and another third are IV-drug
users who started at 10 and 11. Those are your 780 American teenagers
with AIDS. That's not a lot. The only significant number in people
under 20 are the infants. One-or twoyear-old, possibly three-year-old
babies born with AIDS in Europe and in America. A full 80 percent
of them were born to mothers who were injecting drugs during pregnancy.
These kids are intrauterine junkies. They have been on drugs since
before they were born.
the other 20 percent?
Another 5 or
10 percent are congenital conditions like hemophilia. Some are simply
infant mortality under a new name, "ghetto kids." Infant
mortality is higher in this country than in all comparable industrialized
nations. We have the suburbs, where you get every health care you
want, and then we have places like Harlem, Richmond, Oakland, deep
impoverished conditions, that you don't find in Europe where you
have socialized medicine. Starvation, malnutrition, all these kinds
of things. Teenage mothers who run away from the kids, or are working
on the streets while the kids are alone at home. Those are the American
Is it really
true that the death rate among hemophiliacs with HIV is identical
to those without HIV?
As far as we
can tell from the few studies available, it's the same. In fact,
the irony is, it is probably even lower. And I tell you how I arrived
at that. There are 20,000 American hemophiliacs, 75 percent of them
are HIV-positive. 75 percent-or 15,000-have HIV, for nearly ten
years now, because as of 1984-85 they started AIDS testing, so they
eliminated blood with HIV. Now, in the last 10 to 15 years, the
median age of hemophiliacs has doubled. They are now twice as old
as they were 10 to 15 years ago. The fact is, during that same 10
to 15 years, the Factor-VIII treatment has been developed and perfected
and everybody gets it. That's the clotting factor that's missing
in hemophiliacs, extracted out of blood donations and because they
extract it, you extract viruses, too; that contaminated FactorVIII.
But they are irrelevant, mostly harmless things, because a blood
donor is typically not a terribly sick person-you wouldn't collect
blood from somebody who's dying from a disease. So these are usually
your ubiquitous little microbes that don't harm you. As a result,
they picked up HIV. So the treatment that also brought them HIV
has doubled their life.
No. In fact,
it disproved the virus hypothesis in the largest human experiment
ever done. 15,000 people infected with HIV. And now they live twice
as long as hemophiliacs ever lived before in history. Better, longer.
an overwhelming point. It's not a minor experiment. We have a huge
population: 15,000 people with HIV. Sure, it's true, some of them
get what they call AIDS now. But they get less of it than they did
before, and they get it because of transfusions. Because even now,
they constantly get these transfusions. They need FactorVIII. It's
not chemically clean, and that is immunosuppressive.
Why is HIV
present in the majority of AIDS patients?
It is preferentially
in AIDS patients, I acknowledge that. But they have many other microbes,
too. because your typical AIDS patient has picked up HIV from "risk
behavior": either intravenous drug use or promiscuity. Or you
are the recipient of transfusions. Now what do those three things
have in common? Intravenous drug users, highly promiscuous people,
and the recipients of transfusions? They collect all the microbes
that are available, like stamp collectors. If you get a transfusion,
you don't have to shop around a lot, you get everything in a shot.
The hemophiliacs get it by constantly getting transfusions. The
intravenous drug users, they (a) use prostitution to pay for the
drugs, and (b) they share needles. They go to shooting galleries,
they take the same needle until it breaks off in somebody's arm,
then they take a new one.
So these guys
have cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, Human T-cell Leukemia
Virus, hepatitis virus, papiloma virus, syphilis, gonorrhea, all
these microbes. Mycoplasma, pneumocystis, all these of theses things
you find abundant in AIDS risk groups and AIDS patients. HIV is
just one of many, many microbes you find in these people.
say 50 percent of AIDS patients have HIV, and I think it's more,
but let's keep it simple for argument's sake. If one million people
have HIV, In a country of 250 million, It's 0.4 percent of the total
population, but 50 percent of the AIDS population. So It's 0.4 percent
versus 50 percent.
I agree. It's
Why do you
think there's that inequity?
high-risk homosexual has 500 to 1,000 sexual contacts. By the time
you have 1,000 sexual contacts, you would have picked up HIV from
somebody. And they have sexual contacts with people who are equally
active. So the odds of picking it up are much increased. So, you're
looking at those who worked hardest for a rare microbe, and that's
where you find it concentrated.
is much more common in the general population, but it's in 100 percent
of the AIDS population. In the early days they considered that a
cause for a while. Now nobody looks for it anymore. Hepatitis virus,
another suspect for AIDS initially, is rare in the general population
in this country. It's very, very common in AIDS patients and junkies.
talk about cofactors, but there are a lot of healthy people who
have all of those combined. Prostitutes for sure. You find healthy
prostitutes lots of them. Their business is promiscuity. They all
have cytomegalovirus, many of them have HIV, and they're fine. As
long as they don't do drugs, they're fine.
of babies born with HIV seroconvert, go from HIV positive to HIV-negative?
half and half, depending on what studies you look at. But that's
good enough for the virus to survive. When the U.S. army tests the
applicants, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids, one in 1,000 is positive.
Well, how come? 'Cause they already had 1,000 sexual contacts with
somebody who is HIV-positive? [More likely] that guy picked it up
from his mother, or father, and was positive all along and didn't
even know it, until the U.S. army tested him.
What you just
said was interesting: The virus can be latent, it can just do nothing,
it can be silent and invisible. Isn't that what people say when
they say it has a latency of ten years?
Let's say you
get infected today and then ten years later you get sick, during
that time it's latent, that's true. But what they don't say is,
once you get sick, the virus remains in most cases even then latent,
and that's not what is meant by latency. Let's say you get infected
today by syphilis, and a week later you get chancres. During that
time when you don't have any symptoms, the bugs are relatively latent
because there are still too few of them. They're clinically latent.
But with HIV, even when you're dying, that virus is still latent.
Let me get
this straight: Babies with AIDS come from mothers with AIDS or are
born to mothers with terrible drug addictions. Babies with HIV from
their parent, half of the time lose the HIV and do not develop AIDS.
They have the virus but not the AIDS condition, whereas if they're
born to parents who have toxic damage, then they themselves are
the least efficient form of transmission is sexual.
the virus point of view, that virus would never make it.
Why are so
many women contracting HIV and developing AIDS? It seems the majority
are not in the known risk groups, and the presumption is they were
is totally off the mark. It is very, very few. Only 10 percent of
all AIDS patients are women, in America and in Europe.
they the group increasing the fastest?
It has been
100 percent for quite a while now, and 10 percent is not a whole
lot. It's like 25,000 in ten years that's 2,500 per year, if you
average it out.
But how do
you counter the argument that women are victims of the sexual transmission
That is absurd.
There is no evidence that women are getting HIV more readily from
say there's no heterosexual epidemic, women say, well, that's not
true, women are getting it. Heterosexually.
The first answer
to this is virtually all women who get AIDS-AIDS, not HIV, you should
distinguish very clearly-are intravenous drug users. And any attempts
to connect these by tracing sexual contacts is virtually impossible
with a disease that is said to have a latency period of ten years.
If you get something today from somebody sexually and ten years
later you get sick, how are you going to make a connection there?
That is totally anecdotal and circumstantial evidence. I Have yet
to see a paper that ever says, this one did it ten years ago to
me and now I'm getting dementia. There is nothing to that.
Why isn't there
a heterosexual epidemic of AIDS?
is not an infectious disease and not sexually transmissible. AIDS
is a drug disease, so it will not distribute according to sex, it
will distribute according to exposure to drugs. Men consume 80 percent
of the hard drugs. And the soft drugs, like the poppers, are consumed
almost exclusively by male homosexuals. So that's why it skews the
epidemic very much in the male direction.
Why did the
growth of new cases of AIDS drop off after the establishment of
safe sex and the practice of condoms among homosexuals?
AIDS has continued to increase despite the safe sex campaign.
I thought it
The only thing
that they claim is decreasing is HIV infection, but AIDS continues
to increase every year more than the previous year. The failure
of the safe-sex campaign argues against sexual transmission of AIDS
at this point. When you point this out to them they say, oh, it
would have been even more if we hadn't done that.
to be 7,000 people in the U.S. with AIDS, with what they call "no
identified risk." Do you know about this? It's a very large
by ten years and you get the annual incidence, 700. Out of 250 million
Americans. That is an incredibly small number. That is so small
that it is the natural incidence of these diseases in HIV-positive
people. There are one million HIV-positive Americans, every year
roughly one-and-a-half percent of any population will die. One-and-a-half
percent of a million is 15,000. So out of those 15,000, 700 would
be diagnosed with AIDS because they would also have the antibodies.
And we are looking at 25 diseases here. That is the normal incidence
of these diseases in HIV-positive people in America.
Just to clarify,
the Cook County Public Health Department, which chronicled the 7,000
so-called "no identifiable risk" patients, says that the
majority of those cases have become reclassified into-their quote-
"one of the known modes of transmission," in others words
at least a risk factor group.
Yeah, I think
in Germany they have 30 "heterosexual cases." If they
can't find a risk group then it's called a heterosexual case. This
is the normal incidence of [those diseases in] those people with
or without HIV.
a man who ten years ago got HIV from a transfusion, and ten years
later suffers no symptoms and no loss of immune function. They tracked
down the donor and found none of the other people infected had any
effects and that the donor himself was just as healthy as the people
who got his blood. They explained this as "a harmless strain."
Is there such a thing? I know you think HIV is harmless, but are
there cases where a virus is both harmless and harmful?
You can have
harmless variants of any virus. But this is very easy to demonstrate
with HIV. They tried, they sequenced it they've looked at HIV, but
there is no evidence whatsoever that there is a harmless and a nonharmless
They are saying
they found harmless strains and were thinking about using it as
found people who didn't get sick. There are a million harmless HIV
viruses in Americans, all of whom are not sick. When they get sick
then all of a sudden the virus is harmful. So this is totally arbitrary
and hypothetical. There is not one study that has ever been able
to show a harmless gene or a malignant gene in HIV. In other viruses
that has been done occasionally, they have pointed out when you
take this off, or when you leave this part, all of a sudden it becomes
harmless, it becomes attenuated as we call it. In HIV strains, despite
intensive efforts and a hundred thousand papers on the stuff there
is not one study that has ever been able to point out a distinction
between a so-called harmless HIV and a fatal HIV. They are all the
How does the
government get away with, unchallenged, the idea that there is such
a thing as a different strain? Why don't other scientists say that
is impossible, we've seen the genetic
of the so-called harmless virus and they are the same as the so-called
would say that and guess how popular they would be, and how much
money they would get the next time they apply for HIV grants.
people who are not applying for HIV grants?
bother sequencing it, they wouldn't be equipped, they wouldn't have
the time to analyze it. And I would also like to submit to you that
about 50 million American smokers smoke harmless cigarettes except
for the 20,000 or 30,000 who develop lung cancerthey smoke fatal
is Newsweek, one of the most respected journals in the world-said:
"few [viruses] evolve as fast as HIV. Confronted by a drug
or an immune reaction the virus readily mutates out of its range."
that the viruses can mutate themselves away is absolutely silly.
It ignores entirely that a virus is a parasite, it is entirely dependent
on the host. It is on a leash of the host and that leash is very
tight and very short. If it takes one step further from that leash,
it is dead.
What do you
The virus is
what you call an obligatory parasite, as dependent on the host as
an unborn baby on the mother. In theory the virus could mutate like
crazy. But what would it help the virus if it cannot parasitize
the host any longer? Then it's dead. The virus is just a piece of
information, everything the virus does depends entirely on the cell.
It needs the cellular ribosomes, it needs the cellular amino acids
and triphosphates and proteins.
So you're saying
if it mutates to a point where it is vastly different...
a tiny bit. It is totally on a leash, it has very little room to
mutate. It has to be compatible with the cell entirely.
a flu virus, does that ever mutate?
It does mutate,
all viruses mutate, but in a very limited way. Actually, that was
my claim to fame. In 1968 I found out why that is: They have different
chromosomes. This [flu virus] is one of the rare viruses with multiple
chromosomes, in fact it was the first time this was shown in a virus.
And that gives it the additional ability to recombine.
Why can't HIV
do the same thing? Why can't it recombine?
doesn't have segmented chromosomes. And viruses with a single genome
[genetic information] cannot recombine, they can only exchange in
a very minor, very limited way.
And HIV has
only a single genome. So they've looked and discovered that HIV
does not have the capacity to recombine.
It does have
the capacity but it cannot change like flu because all HIVs are
closely related. They are all one genome so if you recombine one
genome with another, they are nearly identical and you don't get
any new, different recombinant. There are chicken flus and swine
flus and human flus and they can all recombine. But the HIVs are
all from humans, and they are virtually all identical. You wouldn't
create a new so-called "host range," as we say, or a new
pathogenic type. The spontaneous mutations that the Newsweek article
describes wouldn't help it, because nearly all spontaneous mutations
would be fatal to the virus. And those that wouldn't be fatal make
no difference. We have yet to see a single case where an HIV mutant
has been isolated that can do something that other HIVs can't.
given is this virus is mutating like some kind of monster and there
is no vaccinating against it.
That is the
fantasy of an undergraduate science fiction writer. In a classroom,
that's very possible, but in the laboratory of life it's ridiculous.
Here's an example of just how restricted the range of HIV mutations
really is: antibodies against all strains of HIV detected in all
people all over the world were detected because they crossreacted
with the same HIV strain Montagnier isolated in 1983.
not the only guy in the world who knows this about the virus. The
people who work on the virus regularly sequence it and come up with
the theories that it is mutating. If they know this isn't possible,
why don't they say it?
I think some
of them don't even know it because they never think about it. They
are so used to one way of thinking that they don't consider alternatives
at all. They don't want to consider them and if they consider them,
they are out of the think-collective. They are very unpopular immediately,
just like me.
them dearly. If you're in the think-collective you stop thinking
other than what the collective think. You think pretty much on the
wavelength they allow you. If you say there is no way there could
be a harm or a nonharm gene-if there was such a gene we would have
found it in nine years and we would have seen the difference, if
you say that then you essentially force a discussion on why a million
HIV-positive people never get sick from it. Maybe then the virus
isn't the cause.
cases where homosexuals have come down with AIDS, are HIV-positive,
have no history of recreational drug use, and they haven't gone
that is what I am looking for. That is my battle with John Maddox
[editor of Nature] and with people who are actually fabricating
data [Ascher, et al., in Nature, March 11, 1993]. They claim to
have such a group that had not used any drugs. When I analyzed the
data, it turned out that there was not a single person in their
paper that was drug-free. I submitted that critique to Maddox, but
his response was I could no longer respond. I was censored.
wrote an editorial in the May 13 issue, saying that your questions
are "unanswerable rhetorical questions" and "the
stock-in trade of undergraduate debating societies." What do
you feel about that?
are unanswerable to John Maddox. He's not the only reader of his
journal. There should be many scientists, maybe they could answer
them. The only way to find out is by presenting these questions
which he has refused for three or four years now. I have been negotiating
with him, as he acknowledges in his article, to present these questions
in his journal, and he never accepted that proposal.
So you're saying
your questions are legitimate questions that go unanswered because
they are censored?
In fact, in
his article, he does say that some of those questions are legitimate.
Progress in science depends entirely on communication, debate, interaction
among scientists, exchange of ideas. He is interrupting that by
Is there any
area of the HIV-as-cause theory that you're uncertain about, that
you think might be plausible or that you don't feel you can explain?
Not any more.
Absolutely nothing anymore.
So you're more
convinced than ever?
Yeah, I don't
see even an area of doubt that can be left: I used to see a few,
but I don't see them anymore.
What was the
last one you saw that you are no longer seeing?
I was sort
of, more or less, impressed by what they presented as this perfect
correlation between HIV and AIDS, but I've since realized that the
correlation is by far less perfect than they pretended; that is,
actually, rather unimpressive.
did you feel to come up with an alternative theory when people said,
"Okay, if you don't think HIV causes AIDS, what does?"
I didn't feel
any more pressure than I thought I could provide evidence for I
mean, I was thinking about it, yes, I thought what else can it be,
and I think I would have left it at that if I
could not have
seen another explanation. If I don't believe in Santa Claus, then
I don't have to come up with another Santa Claus.
come out of the blue. If the CDC tells me that onethird of all American
AIDS patients, namely all heterosexuals, are intravenous drug users,
I'd say that's a good start, isn't it? The first 80,000 are handed
to me by the CDC. I'm also told, by the NIH and the CDC, that the
virus has a latent period of ten years, which I translate into a
euphemism for ten years of drug use.
question: Since the gay community is unilaterally offended by your
suggestion that AIDS is the result of a self-destructive lifestyle,
do you ever feel that you should change the way you talk about AIDS
and its causation, and is there anything that would make you stop
and give up this fight, because you're almost alone in it?
Well, not as
long as I remain a scientist. The charge of a scientist is to find
the truth, to find the scientific basis of a problem. So you go
for it irrespective of the political and moral and ethical consequences.
You look at what is the plausible cause, and what is ultimately
is not a politically correct crowd pleaser, he is supposed to find
the cause of disease. Otherwise, we get what we get now: We try
to please the gays by approving AZT, and now 200,000 of them are
dying for it, and we keep telling them that this is the best we
can do for you guys, because we mix politics with science. They
are not compatible. Science is amoral. Nature doesn't know morals.
If our peers and our government would act scientifically, it would
reward scientific truth, not political correctness. What we are
doing now is rewarding political correctness, and we are paying
the price for it. A very high price, four billion dollars and 50,000
deaths a year. *