"The Duesberg Phenomenon": Duesberg and
Science 267: 313-314;
20 January 1995.
By Peter H. Duesberg
In the Special News report of 9 December (p. 1642)
by Jon Cohen, Science struggles with what is called "The
Duesberg phenomenon"-"a Berkeley virologist and his supporters
continue to argue that HIV [human immunodeficiency virus] is not
the cause of AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome]." Cohen
tries to explain why "mainstream AIDS researchers" believe
that HIV causes AIDS and why "HIV now fulfills the classic
postulates ... by Robert Koch." One week later (16 Dec., p.
1803), Cohen himself appears to become part of the phenomenon, when
he writes: "Is a new virus the cause of KS [Kaposi's sarcoma]?"
One should realize the heresy of this question. KS has been and
still is the signal disease of the AIDS Syndrome. The Centers
for Disease Control include it in its list of 29 diseases defining
AIDS in the presence of HIV (1). No other AIDS-defining disease
has increased more than KS over its long-established background.
It was so rare before AIDS that many doctors told me that they had
never seen it before in young men. This is the reason why KS has
become a hallmark for AIDS. And now, according to Cohen, "solid
headway will have been made ..." if HIV is found not
to be the cause of KS.
Since "mainstream AIDS researchers" now
consider one non-HIV cause for AIDS, why not consider others. Accordingly,
I submit two experimental tests to find such causes.
1) Cohen wonders (16 Dec., p. 1803) about the "mystery"
that "KS is almost exclusively confined to male homosexuals,"
but he reports (9 Dec., p. 1648) that "use of nitrite inhalants,
known as 'poppers' ... has been high among some subgroups in the
homosexual population" and that "nitrite inhalants [are]
popular among gay men" (16 Dec., p. 1803). Cohen also interviewed
the authors of a study that had shown in 1993 that every one of
215 homosexual AIDS patients from San Francisco had used poppers
in addition to other recreational drugs and AZT (2).
Since nitrites are some of the best known mutagens
and carcinogens (3) and AIDS KS typically occurs on the skin
and in the lungs, the primary site of nitrite inhalant exposure,
I propose to solve the "mystery": Expose 100 mice, or
cats, or monkeys to nitrite inhalants at doses comparable with human
recreational use and for time periods approximating the so-called
10-year latent period between infection by HIV to the onset of AIDS-possibly
a euphemism for the time of drug use necessary for AIDS to develop.
(It takes 10 to 20 years of smoking for emphysema or lung cancer
to develop.) I would predict this result: immunodeficiency, pneumonia,
and pulmonary KS in animals.
2) According to Cohen, mainstream AIDS researchers
argue that it is "impossible" to eliminate confounding
factors from HIV in typical AIDS risk groups, as for example in
hemophiliacs "because [they] do not keep track of each factor
VIII treatment" (9 Dec., p. 1645). Therefore, we are asked
to accept confounded epidemiological studies of HIV-positives-who
are either male homosexuals using immunotoxic nitrites (2),
or are intravenous drug users, or are hemophiliacs subject to immunosuppressive
transfusions, or are being treated with AZT, or are subject to exotic
lifestyles-as evidence that HIV causes AIDS.
In view of this, I propose a very possible epidemiological
test of whether HIV or non-HIV factors cause AIDS: Compare the incidence
of AIDS-defining diseases in 3650 homo- or heterosexual American
men, who are not on transfusions and recreational drugs or AZT,
but are HIV-positive, to the incidence in 3650 HIV-negative counterparts.
These healthy subjects could be found by the U.S. Army, which tests
more than 2.5 million per year, or among those contributing to the
blood banks, which test more than 12 million a year. If the 3650-day
latent period is correct, every 2 days one of the people that are
HIV-positive would develop AIDS. I would predict this result: The
percentage incidence in the HIV-positive group will be the same
as in the HIV-negative group.
If the mainstream AIDS researchers are not already
doing these experiments, I would be delighted to do them provided
I can get funded.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morb
Mort Weekly Rep 41 (No. RR17), 1-19 (1992).
2. M. S. Ascher, H. W. Sheppard, W. Winkelstein
Jr., E. Vittinghoff, Nature (London) 362: 103-104 (1993).
3. H. W. Haverkos, J. A. Dougherty, Eds., Health
Hazards of Nitrite Inhalants, NIDA Research Monograph 83 (U.S.
Dept. Health & Human Services, Washington, DC, 1988).