Did AZT contribute to Nureyev's untimely death?
New York Native 1 Feb. 1993
broke out immediately following the announcement of Rudolf Nureyev's
death in Paris on 6 January 1993. His personal friend and physician,
Michel Canesi, stated to the media that Nureyev had died of "a
cardiac complication, following a grievous illness", and refused
to elaborate further: "Following Mr. Nureyev's wishes, I can't
say any more." However, many of Nureyev's friends said that
he had "AIDS".(1)
The loss of
the greatest ballet star, since Pavlova and Nijinsky early in the
century, deeply affected members of the dance community in New York,
who defiantly added Nureyev's name to the roster of AIDS deaths.
Some people with "AIDS" expressed anger; novelist Paul
Monette blurted out, "I consider him a coward; I don't care
how great a dancer he was."(2)
Then, on the
15th of January, Michel Canesi gave an exclusive interview
("The Final Days of Rudolf Nureyev") to Le Figaro,
the most widely read French newspaper.(3) In it Canesi confirmed
that Nureyev had indeed died of "AIDS", and gave the following
explanation for the interview:
If I clarify
things now, it is because there is no such thing as a shameful disease.
I am thinking of all the anonymous patients who are suffering from
being ostracized. Rudolf lived for 13 or 14 years with this virus,
thanks to his force, his combativeness. People should know that.
He was too famous to be able to hide the truth.(4)
why Nureyev had not gone public with his "AIDS" diagnosis
was quite simple: a number of countries, including the United States,
refused entry to individuals known to be HIV-positive.
The more fundamental
question is the cause of Nureyev's death. According to Canesi, Nureyev
died from a very rare case of pericarditis (inflammation of the
heart) brought on by infection by cytomegalovirus (CMV), a member
of the herpes family. The usual AIDS-orthodox interpretation here
would be to say that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) caused
an underlying condition of immune deficiency, which then caused
CMV (a normally latent microbe) to become pathogenic, and in turn
the CMV infection caused the pericarditis. However, a much more
parsimonious and plausible explanation is available: that the pericarditis
was a toxic side effect of AZT therapy.
All of this
is rather confusing, so it may be good to take a step backward and
re-examine the official definition of "AIDS". The official
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) surveillance definition of "AIDS"
has changed several times over the past decade, but at least the
last three definitions can be expressed in the following equation:
HIV + INDICATOR DISEASE = AIDS. That is, a diagnosis of "AIDS"
requires the presence (real or imagined) of HIV plus any of about
30 indicator diseases. (Although neither pericarditis nor any other
kind of heart disease is on the list of indicator diseases, "cytomegalovirus
diseases other than retinitis" are.)
The HIV part
of the equation can be satisfied in several ways: by a positive
result on any of the highly inaccurate HIV-antibody tests; by cultivating
the virus itself, a difficult and expensive procedure which is very
seldom done; by detecting viral signals using the incredibly sensitive
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test; or, as a last resort, by simply
"presuming" that HIV is present.
All of the
indicator diseases are old, and all can exist independently of "AIDS",
in which case they are called by their usual names. However, in
the presence of HIV, the indicator diseases are relegated to a secondary
status, and are regarded as mere symptoms of a hypothetically underlying
condition of immune deficiency caused by HIV.
abound. The indicator diseases ( up to nearly 30 at last count )
are extremely heterogeneous, and many of them are in no way whatever
related to immune deficiency. The literature on HIV, which is enormous,
indicates that the putative retroviral culprit is consistently inactive
from a biochemical standpoint, which is alone a sufficient and devastating
refutation of the HIV-AIDS hypothesis. A latent microbe cannot cause
lethal disease any more than the reader of this article could rob
a bank and be sound asleep at the same time. The law of causality
has not been repealed; a virus, like anything else, has to do something
to get something done. HIV is a "profoundly conventional"
retrovirus, and retroviruses are conventionally harmless. For these
and many other reasons, a rapidly growing number of scientists and
others are convinced that "AIDS" itself is a phoney construct,
and that the HIV-AIDS hypothesis is the biggest blunder in medical
To return to
Nureyev (the following account is based on the Figaro interview
with Michel Canesi): In 1984, like many gay men, he was filled with
anxiety over the new disease, "AIDS". Everyone he knew
in the United States was talking about it. And so, after discussing
it with Canesi, he went to the SalpÕtriÀre hospital for an HIV-antibody
test (which Canesi at one point incorrectly refers to as the "AIDS
test"). The result was positive, and a rumor immediately went
around Paris that Nureyev had AIDS. However, Nureyev was in good
health at the time, and chose to deny the lethal diagnosis that
was imposed on him; he reasoned that not much was really known about
"AIDS", and only about ten percent of the seropositives
would get sick.
was wrong with his health, Nureyev began taking an experimental
French medicine, HPA 23, which he seemed to tolerate well. For several
years he followed a demanding professional schedule, dancing and
directing choreography in Italy, Germany, the United States, and
Paris. According to Canesi, he was then in great form.
1987-1988 he was again attacked by severe anxiety, and discussed
with Canesi the desirability of taking AZT, a drug which doctors
in France had begun experimentally giving patients. Canesi counseled
Nureyev against this, stating that AZT had dangerous side effects,
and that not enough was known about the drug to judge the results.
But "Rudi" became angry and said to Canesi: "I want
that drug!". And so, at Nureyev's insistence, Canesi wrote
out a prescription for AZT in 1988. At this point Nureyev was still
healthy. Perhaps in accord with a sound instinct, he did not always
take the prescribed doses of AZT; whenever Canesi visited him there
would be AZT containers scattered around the place.
A real decline
in Nureyev's health began in the summer of 1991, and in the spring
of 1992 he entered into the final phase of his illness. He was diagnosed
as having "pericarditis caused by cytomegalovirus (an extremely
rare case)", and began treatment with Ganciclovir. Despite
being very ill, Nureyev miraculously continued to work, and achieved
a personal triumph conducting Romeo and Juliet at the Metropolitan
various treatments to Nureyev, which he rejected as being too expensive.
The two of them had a tiff, and Nureyev said, in English, "No.
I don't need you any more!" Three days later he called back
in the United States for awhile, returning to Paris in July 1992.
He resisted Canesi's entreaties to resume treatment, and told him:
"Dear Michel, now I'm going to follow the right medicine for
me: sunshine and the sea. I'm leaving for my island." It is
too bad that Nureyev did not follow his instincts from the beginning.
If sunshine and the sea had been his only medicine - and love and
work and music - he would be alive now, well and strong and beautiful.
His last public
appearance was at the gala premiere on 8 October 1992 of his new
production of La BayadÀre at the Palais Garnier, where he received
a 10-minute standing ovation from the audience. He had to be helped
onto the stage by two dancers, and remained seated as he was decorated
as a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture
and Education. Though weak, tired and emaciated, he was very happy,
and said, in English, "It's good to be alive."
Why did Nureyev
die? The orthodox explanation, that HIV caused immune deficiency,
which caused CMV disease, which caused pericarditis, cannot be taken
seriously, for reasons I've discussed earlier. On the other hand,
the case is compelling that the decline in Nureyev's health was
caused by AZT - a chemical which is cytotoxic, meaning that it harms
healthy cells - a chemical that can do only one thing: kill.
The most important AZT research, on the basis of which the drug
was approved for marketing, was fraudulent.(6) There is no scientifically
credible evidence that AZT has benefits of any kind, aside from
the ability to make profits for Burroughs Wellcome. The toxicities
of AZT are extremely severe, and include anemia; myopathy, or muscle
disease (which manifests itself as muscular pain, muscular inflammation,
and muscular atrophy); cachexia (wasting); nausea; headache; and
damage to the kidneys, liver and nerves. AZT is a known carcinogen:
it is highly positive in a standard screening test for carcinogenicity,
the Cell Transformation Assay; it causes cancer in rodents; and
there is a strong correlation between long-term AZT therapy and
cancer of the lymph system. AZT is a random terminator of DNA synthesis,
the very life process itself, without which body cells can neither
be formed nor develop.
Peter Duesberg has argued that AZT is now a leading cause of "AIDS".
When administered to healthy, HIV-positive individuals, like Nureyev,
AZT undermines the health. Sooner or later one or more of the indicator
diseases manifests itself, thus qualifying the patient for an official
diagnosis of "AIDS".
Like many tens
of thousands of others, Nureyev was poisoned with AZT. He was only
the most illustrious of the victims. In this affair I do not put
the blame on Michel Canesi. He and Nureyev appear to have had an
intimate and loving relationship. They made mistakes, as do we all.
The real villains are the AZT pushers, whether motivated by stupidity
or venality, in the Public Health Service, academia, the medical
profession, and AIDS organizations.
and death were iatrogenic, the consequences of medical practice.
His health was fine until he began taking a toxic drug he didn't
need. It shouldn't have happened. In terms of artistic productivity,
he was only beginning to come into his own, and ought to have lived
for many more years. Most tragic of all, he loved life. His disastrous
decision to take AZT was prompted by the very intensity of his desire
in his interview, "His disposition became milder with illness,
and he became more and more touching. He was Petrushka, the disjointed
puppet, broken and miserable."
Ah yes, Petrushka.
Petrushka, the mournfully dreamy clown.
Petrushka, who is brutally murdered.
Gay men shouldn't
have to play Petrushka.
1. Jack Anderson,
"Rudolf Nureyev, Charismatic Dancer Who Gave Fire to Ballet's
Image, Dies at 54", _The New York Times_, 7 January 1993.
Associated Press, 11 January 1993.
with Michel Canesi conducted by Rene/' Sirvin, "Les derniers
jours de Rudolf Noureev: 'Rudi a lutte/' quatorze ans contre la
maladie', avoue le docteur Michel Canesi qui, depuis 1983, a accompagne/'
le danseur dans son dur combat contre le sida", _Le Figaro_,
Paris, 15 January 1993. Unless otherwise indicated, translations
are my own.
from the French in John Rockwell's article, "Nureyev Did Have
AIDS, His Doctor Confirms", _The New York Times_, 16 January
5. For a definitive
refutation of the HIV-AIDS hypothesis read Peter Duesberg's book,
INVENTING THE AIDS VIRUS (Regnery Publishing, Inc. 1996).
6. John Lauritsen,
"FDA Documents Show Fraud in AZT Trials: Info Obtained Under
Freedom of Information Act Calls Drug's Approval Into Question",
_New York Native_, 30 March 1992; reprinted as Chapter XXIX in _The
AIDS War_ (Asklepios 1993).