FALL SHORT FOR HIV THEORY
By Peter H. Duesberg
14 Feb. 1994
than a decade, the war on AIDS has been a dismal failure. At the
1993 International AIDS Conference in Berlin, even the most dogged
researchers were beginning to admit their frustration and the mood
of the conference was generally pessimistic.
As the number
of AIDS victims continues to rise, so do the bewildering questions.
Why do so many people infected with the virus remain healthy? Why
do homosexuals manifest radically different diseases than the hemophiliacs
to whom they donated infected blood? Why can we not, as the most
technologically sophisticated biomedical establishment in history,
produce a vaccine, as was previously accomplished for polio, measles
and other viruses? Where is a safe, effective treatment for AIDS?
are asked not only by the so-called HIV-AIDS dissidents, such as
myself, but also by an increasing number of mainstream AIDS researchers
and concerned scientist, including this year's Nobel laureate in
chemistry, Kary Mullis.
currently is spending $6 billion annually for AIDS research and
treatment, according to the U.S. Public Health Service. Yet despite
spending more than $22 billion since 1982, and despite a staggering
75,000 scientific papers written during the last decade, a cure
for AIDS remains as elusive as ever. It now appears likely that
AIDS researchers have made a terrible mistake in blaming HIV, the
so-called AIDS virus, for causing AIDS.
assumption mostly was the result of a rush to judgment in 1984 when
virologist Robert Gallo from the National Institutes of Health,
along with the Department of Health and Human Services, announced
at an international press conference that acquired immune deficiency
syndrome was caused by a retrovirus, now known as human immunodeficiency
was made in the New York Times before even one American study on
HIV had appeared in scientific literature. It was welcomed by the
Reagan administration as a quick answer to gay pressures for a solution
to the growing AIDS epidemic. Gallo and his collaborators cited
antibodies against the virus in "about 85 percent of patients
with AIDS" as the evidence for their hypothesis. Yet that was
their only evidence.
In the scientific
papers that followed, HIV was said to cause AIDS by depleting the
white blood cells known as T cells. The hypothesis proposed that
HIV would cause 30 previously known diseases, including a number
of diseases that are not consequences of immunodeficiency, such
as cancer, weight loss and dementia.
It now appears.
that the HIV-AIDS hypothesis is the only link that holds together
the 30 heterogenous AIDS diseases. AIDS is defined as a syndrome
that occurs only in the presence of HIV. For example, if tuberculosis
occurs in the presence of antibodies to HIV, it is AIDS. In the
absence of those antibodies, it is tuberculosis. Given this definition,
the link between HIV and AIDS is unfalsifiable.
date, the HIV-AIDS hypothesis remains just that - an unproven hypothesis.
It is supported only by circumstantial evidence, primarily by the
claim that all AIDS patients carry antibodies against HIV. But this
correlation is biased by the practice of excluding from AIDS statistics
those patients with AIDS-defining diseases in whom no trace of HIV
can be found. The disease of such a patient will be diagnosed either
by its old name, for example, pneumonia or Kaposi's sarcoma, or
will be called idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia. This explains why
some researchers see the "perfect" correlations between
HIV and AIDS.
To date the
virus-AIDS hypothesis has failed to yield any public health benefits.
No vaccine has been developed and AIDS continues to spread despite
efforts to Stop the spread of HIV. However, the acid test of a hypothesis
is not to produce useful results, but to make accurate predictions.
hypothesis makes the following testable predictions, none of which
has been proved.
America would "explode" from the original risk groups
via sexual transmission into the general population. Like all other
sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS would tend to strike an equal
share of both genders.
AIDS has remained in the original risk groups - male homosexuals,
male and female intravenous drug users and recipients of transfusions.
Since 1981, 90 percent of all American AIDS patients have been males.
of AIDS would follow the dissemination of HIV
increased in America from a few hundred to about 50,000 cases annually
in the last 10 years, HIV did not spread at all. Ever since HIV
became detectable in 1985, an unchanging 1 million Americans have
been HIV-positive. To account for this discrepancy, defenders of
the hypothesis claim the virus has a latency period of 10 years
workers would contract AIDS from their patients, scientists from
propagating virus and prostitutes from their clients, particularly
in the absence of an anti-HIV vaccine or drug.
Not a single
confirmed case exists in scientific literature Of a health care
worker who contracted AIDS from one of the more than 250,000 American
AIDS patients. None of the tons of thousands of HIV researchers
has developed AIDS from propagating HIV. And prostitutes have not
picked up AIDS from their clients - despite the absence of antiviral
vaccines or effective drugs.
inoculated with HIV would develop AIDS, and the 15,000 American
hemophiliacs who were infected iatrogenically before 1984 would
die from AIDS.
Not one of
the 150 chimpanzees inoculated with HIV since 1983 has developed
AIDS. Contrary to the prediction, the median life of American hemophiliacs
has doubled during the last 10 to 15 years after 75 percent (15,000)
already had been infected by transfusions.
or vaccine-induced anti-HIV immunity would cure AIDS or protect
against future AIDS.
immunity that is observed in many AIDS patients does not protect
be demonstrated that HIV causes AIDS by killing the white blood
cells known as T cells.
of all retroviruses is that they do not kill cells that they infect.
HIV is the only retrovirus that is asserted to kill its host cell.
Several researchers, including HIV discoverer Luc Montagnier, have
found that HIV does not kill its host cell in laboratory tests.
diseases are the consequence of HIV-mediated T cell deficiency.
About 61 percent
of all American AIDS diseases - opportunistic infections such as
Pneumocystis carinii, candida, tuberculosis etc. - are related to
breakdown of the immune system. But 39 percent, including kaposi's
sarcoma, lymphoma, 10 percent weight loss and dementia, are neither
caused by nor consistently associated with immunodeficiency. Two
studies of homosexuals with Kaposi's sarcoma report that the immune
systems of 20 and 19 of the subjects were normal when their disease
was first diagnosed.
be restricted by controlling the spread of HIV via "safe sex"
and through programs adopting the use of "clean needles"
for the injection of street drugs.
to increase despite the safe sex and clean needle programs.
among many others, give me reason to believe that HIV is in fact
a harmless virus. AIDS may be a noninfectious condition "acquired"
by recreational drugs and other noncontagious risk factors.
of the HIV-AIDS hypothesis, such as Jaap Goudsmit of the University
of Amsterdam, have been forced to admit that "AIDS does not
have the characteristics of an ordinary infectious disease."
Indeed, AIDS does not meet even one of the common criteria of known
infectious diseases are equally distributed between the genders
and never remain tightly segregated in special risk groups. This
is especially true of the venereal diseases, including herpes, syphilis,
gonorrhea and chlamydia. This also is true of hepatitis the blood-borne
virus long considered the model for predicting the spread of HIV.
Despite loud publicity to the contrary by vested interests, AIDS
has not been spreading to females as predicted nor to the heterosexual
population at large.
infectious diseases caused by viruses, the virus infects every individual
with the disease and the virus is abundant and very active in target
tissues during the course of the illness. However, at least 4,621
AIDS cases have been documented since 1984 in which there is no
HIV. About one-third of these, 1,691, were recorded in the U.S.;
475 were recorded in Europe and 2,555 in Africa. Since Africa uses
only the clinical, rather than the HIV-based AIDS definition, most
of these cases were observed there.
teams have also documented that, even in those patients who are
HIV-infected, the virus is usually totally dormant once immune deficiency
is acquired and AIDS appears. Using standard laboratory techniques
now available for decades, the active, infectious form of the virus
cannot be isolated from the blood or other tissues of most HIV-positive
AIDS patients. Even the dormant form of HIV, resting quietly inside
infected cells, can be found in only one out of every 1,000 T cells
in the patient.
Nor is there
a correlation between AIDS and the number of HIV-infected cells.
There are, for example, healthy infected individuals with up to
43 times the rate of HIV-infected cells in AIDS patients.
diseases typically follow within days or weeks after infection by
viruses, before the immune system has had time to make antibodies
against the invader. This is because all viruses, begin replicating
in the body within hours after infection and multiply into armies
of viruses within days or weeks unless stopped by an antiviral immunity.
As a rule, viruses strike quickly or not at all. Although it has
become fashionable among many scientists to believe in special "slow
viruses," or lentiviruses, which are said to take months or
years to multiply, such viruses have never actually been found.
In those HIV-positive
people who eventually develop AIDS, the syndrome appears only after
unpredictable "latent periods" averaging about 10 Years.
When HIV first infects a person, it can reach moderately high concentrations
in the blood - yet AIDS never shows up at that time and T cell levels
remain normal. Within days or weeks, the immune system makes antibodies
against HIV, and the virus quickly disappears, from the blood. Years
later, if AIDS shows up at all, the virus rarely comes back to life
and multiplies again.
In other words,
AIDS never strikes a patient until years after the active virus
has been permanently eliminated from the body. This strongly suggests
that AIDS is caused by something else.
As an alternative
to the HIV explanation, I suggest that AIDS in America and Europe
is caused by the long-term use of recreational drugs and by the
toxic effects of anti-HIV treatments and that African AIDS is an
unrelated epidemic caused by malnutrition, parasitic infections
and poor sanitation.
in America and Europe fits all classical criteria of a drug-induced
disease syndrome. Part of the evidence for this hypothesis is that
about 30 percent of all American and European AIDS patients are
intravenous drug users. This group includes nearly all heterosexuals
with AIDS. It also includes 80 percent of America and European babies
with AIDS who were drug users before birth because their mothers
injected drugs during pregnancy.
virtually 10 percent of homosexual males with AIDS or at risk for
AIDS have been long-term users of oral, aphrodisiac drugs, particularly
nitrite inhalants that confer euphoria and facilitate anal intercourse.
Epidemiological studies from San Francisco and Vancouver, British
Columbia, have just confirmed, in 1993, that 100 percent of several
hundred male homosexuals with AIDS had used multiple recreational
drugs. The immunotoxicity of recreational drugs has been documented
in the literature since 1909.
some had also used the drug azido-thymidine, or AZT, as an antiviral
agent. AZT was originally developed 30 years ago to kill human cells
in chemotherapy. About 200,000 HIV-positive healthy people and AIDS
patients are currently treated four times daily with AZT and other
drugs that attack the DNA chains within the cell. But these drugs
kill all growing cells, particularly those of the highly proliferative
immune system. Thus AZT could, by itself, trigger AIDS. Indeed,
Sigma, an American chemical company, accords AZT the highest warning
against toxicity, a skull with crossbones.
In the United
States, recreational drug use has increased during the last decade
at about the same rate as AIDS. For example, cocaine consumption-increased
200-fold from 1980 to 1990, based on the fact that the amount of
cocaine seized by authorities increased from 500 kilograms in 1980
to 100,000 kilograms in 1990. During the same period, cocaine-related
hospital emergencies increased 24-fold from 3,296 cases in 1981
to 80,35.5 cases in 1990. Note the increase in AIDS and the rise
in cocaine and cocaine-related hospital emergencies run parallel
since 1981, whereas HIV has failed to spread since at least 1984.
also explain why 90 percent of American AIDS patients are males,
since, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, males consume
about 75 percent of all illicit injected drugs. In addition, homosexual
males are virtually the only consistent users of aphrodisiac drugs
such as alkyl nitrites.
we could then explain why AIDS occurs, on average, 10 years after
initiation of risk behavior. The great variations in "latent
periods" from HIV to AIDS may in fact be the time periods required
by individuals to accumulate sufficient drug toxicity to generate
AIDS diseases. It takes years of recreational drug consumption to
cause disease, just as it frequently takes 20 years of smoking to
get lung cancer or emphysema.
In view of
the multiple failures of the HIV hypothesis, it is high time to
look at alternative hypothesis of causation. But since 1984, virtually
every dollar of funding from the federal government for AIDS research
has been devoted to work premised on the causal role of HIV and
awarded only to grant recipients who do not question that causal
role. Such a disproportionate research focus on a single avenue
of investigation could conceivably be justified if it had resulted
in meaningful advance. Yet, sadly, this massive, narrowly targeted
expenditure of public money has not resulted in saving or prolonging
a single life. *