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Revisit: Serge Lang eviscerates HIV/AIDS Paradigm at 2001 Sci Dem Conf

January 21st, 2013

Serge Lang eviscerates HIV/AIDS Paradigm at 2001 Sci Dem Conf Revisited

Professor Serge Lang lecturing for Math Club at the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on March 8, 2004. Photograph by Bogdan Oporowski.

Professor Serge Lang lecturing for Math Club at the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on March 8, 2004. Photograph by Bogdan Oporowski.

We hereby append the late, very distinguished Yale professor Serge Lang’s critique of HIV/AIDS thinking – still the ruling global paradigm – which applies the rigor of a fine mathematician’s mind to the claims of the HIV/AIDS community, demonstrating that they flout basic principles of science, medicine, logic, common sense, and high school science. The paper was delivered to the Science and Democracy Conference held in Naples in 2001.

Serge Lang


(23 February 1999)

I am usually a mathematician, but for many years, I have been interested in the area where the academic and scientific worlds meet the world of journalism and politics. I have thus documented extensively certain defective practices over 20 years. I published some of my documentation in my book Challenges (Springer Verlag, 1998).

One thing leading to another, over the last six years I have made up a file on an extraordinary situation concerning the virus called HIV. I have drawers full of documents. The Yale Scientific published two articles by me on HIV, in Fall 1994 and Winter 1995. The first article was entitled “HIV and AIDS: Have We Been Misled?” Both articles are reproduced updated in Challenges. The present article is therefore a follow up. To summarize:

– The hypothesis that HIV is a harmless virus is compatible with all the evidence I have studied.

– Certain purportedly scientific articles on HIV, which I and others have followed up, are subject to severe criticisms, and exhibit serious defects which invalidate them.

– Certain scientific articles admit explicitly that scientists do not know how “HIV causes AIDS”. Although they try to fit data to this axiom, the data don’t fit.

– There is currently ongoing a phenomenon of collective misinformation, promoted by official medical and scientific organizations such as the National Institutes of Health in the United States, of which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a part most directly concerned with HIV and AIDS. Both the general press (e.g. the New York Times) and the scientific journals such as Nature and Science, propagate misinformation uncritically, and suppress information which goes against the orthodox position that “HIV is the virus that causes AIDS”.

– Questions about the orthodox view have not been properly answered, or even remain unanswered. When persons point to contradictions in publications coming from the orthodoxy, these persons get evasive answers or they do not get answers at all. I am one of those persons, and I have written a number of letters, for instance to the CDC Director, documenting contradictions in CDC publications.

Occasionally, a dissenting voice arises. Just a few years ago on 4 April 1994, The Scientist published an article by Robert Root-Bernstein, associate professor of physiology at Michigan State University, and former MacArthur Fellow. The article started on p. 1, and it was long, headlined by: “Agenda For U.S. AIDS Research Is Due For A Complete Overhaul.” He lists systematically a number of “false assumptions”, and his dissent from the orthodoxy had displayed statements such as:

We have not yet asked all the right questions.

We must consider how many of our notions about AIDS are biased by our preconceptions and are not trustworthy.

Diversity of opinion has never hurt science; dogmatism often has. The [AIDS] task force can foster one or the other — but not both.

The drug hypothesis. The first idea that came to the mind of medical researchers around 1980, when there occurred an increase of certain diseases in certain well-defined risk groups in the western world, is that this increase was due to drugs, of various kinds depending on the risk group. Be it noted here that different risk groups come down with different diseases, and are exposed to different drugs. Various drugs can be involved, ranging from sex-enhancing recreational drugs to HIV-inhibiting drugs such as AZT. The time period and the cumulative effect may also be factors involved in the causation. The situation may be similar to prolonged use or abuse of alcohol causing cirrhosis of the liver, or smoking causing lung cancer. This drug hypothesis was taken up again principally by Professor Peter Duesberg at the University of California at Berkeley. For instance, in a certain subculture of male homosexuals, the use of “poppers” (whose technical name is amyl nitrite) to reinforce sexual pleasure has been suggested as the cause of the increase of AIDS defining diseases such as Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) in this population. A study published in Nature (1993) claimed to show that drugs were not the cause. But after a re-analysis by Duesberg et al of the original data used for this study, it turned out that 100% of the people declared sick with AIDS by the authors of the study had taken drugs systematically, and especially “poppers” (nitrite inhalants). (Complete references are given in Challenges, pp. 642-643.) In England, poppers were declared illegal in 1996, precisely because of their link (correlation) with Kaposi’s sarcoma.

On 23 and 24 May 1994, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored a meeting on the toxic effects of nitrite inhalants. The meeting was not covered by the press, scientific or otherwise. Harry Haverkos, acting director for clinical research at that Institute, was chairman of the meeting. Because of his views about AIDS, he is a lone figure in U.S. health agencies. He emphasized the role of poppers in gay AIDS and according to an article in the journal Biotechnology (12 August 1994), he “reported an essentially exclusive correlation between nitrite use and gay KS. The hypothesis of Harold Jaffe (Acting Director of the AIDS Division of the CDC) that ‘an unknown infectious agent’ is the cause of KS could not be reconciled with Haverkos’ evidence that there was not a single confirmed case of KS from blood transfusions, which often contain infectious agents.”

Some scientists have proposed some experiments to test whether or not HIV is pathogenic, and also to test the counter hypothesis that drugs, in different forms and different circumstances, are the cause of different diseases defining AIDS according to the CDC. Duesberg is prominent among those who have proposed such experiments, but he cannot get the necessary funding from government agencies or universities in the United States to carry out these experiments. The experiments are partly epidemiological, and partly laboratory experiments on animals. The funding situation is so bad that his lab at Berkeley is now threatened with being closed down within a few months because he cannot get funding. For more details, see a paid advertisement by “Cal Friends of Duesberg” in the California Monthly (UC Alumni Magazine), February 1999. Although the editor was ready to publish an even longer article, he was overruled by higher powers who killed the article in galley proof stage.

Be it noted that Duesberg has also done cancer research which goes against the current orthodoxy. He cannot get funding either for this research in the United States. As a result, he has been spending more time in Germany, where he can get university funding and where he writes joint papers with German scientists.

Communication of information. One basic problem is to communicate a large amount of information to readers who cannot find this information in the standard media, including the scientific magazines and the mainstream press. I have written a detailed account of the situation in one 114 page chapter of Challenges. During this past year, even more evidence against the orthodox view has come to my attention. Although the present article has to recall briefly some items from my previous articles and from that chapter, I emphasize here material which developed too late for inclusion in Challenges, especially in sections ß5, ß6 and ß7 dealing with publications in Nature Medicine, the Scientific American, and a so-called AIDS case in Maine. Hence the HIV chapter in Challenges and the present article are not substitutes for each other but complement each other.

Although I am a mathematician, I do not need to know biology to evaluate critically certain practices, which can be criticized simply from the point of view of ordinary scientific and rhetorical standards. Arthur Gottlieb, M.D., Chairman of the Microbiology/Immunology department at Tulane University, gave to the publishers a statement, reprinted at the end of my chapter, stating in part:

“In this chapter, Prof. Serge Lang has well documented the basis of this controversy [whether HIV is the cause of AIDS] and has provided a sobering picture for the reader of the polity of thinking that has characterized this field. For example, legitimate questions about the effects of HIV and the role of cofactors in the pathogenesis of the immune dysfunction that is the hallmark of AIDS remain unanswered by those who are the proponents of conventional thinking in this field. Models of how HIV and cells of the immune system replicate, which have not yet sustained the rigor of thorough scientific discussion and critique at both the biological and mathematical level, are accepted as if they were laws of nature. Major journals and scientific meetings have often failed to provide a forum for legitimate criticism of these models, and other issues pertaining to HIV. Lang points out that this is an abuse of the process by which science seeks to achieve a complete understanding of a problem…

As well, Lang asks to what extent are readers of scientific journals correctly informed of various points of view and do editors assert unreasonable control over the terms of disclosure in their journals? These are clearly important and disturbing questions. A review of the scenarios which Lang has painted should give the thoughtful reader pause as well as some insight into how doctrinaire thinking can develop and be perpetuated.”

I shall list a few of the problems which confront the HIV pathogenesis hypothesis.

ß1. Circular official definition. First, one must realize that the official definition of AIDS in the United States is not scientifically neutral. It is circular. Since 1992, for instance, the CDC has an official list of 29 diseases. Among these, about 60% have to do with immuno deficiency but 40% do not (for instance diseases of cancer type, such as cervical cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma). A low T-cell count is mentioned explicitly as only one of the 29 diseases. A person is then defined to have AIDS for surveillance reporting purposes if and only if this person has at least one of these diseases, and simultaneously tests HIV positive. With this definition, the correlation between HIV and AIDS is 100% because the definition assumes the correlation. Thus when two people have the same symptoms of sickness, if one is HIV positive the sickness is called AIDS, and if the other is not, then the sickness is given its ordinary name. In this way, the definition obstructs dealing with the question whether the virus HIV is a cause of any disease. Some medical practitioners or scientists follow the CDC definition and some do not. Usually articles on HIV and AIDS do not specify which definition is used. Under such circumstances, statistics purportedly showing that HIV is the cause of certain diseases are worthless, and misleading.

ß2. Misleading and nonsensical CDC figures. The CDC December 1996 Surveillance Report provides a typical example of misleading statistics.

(a) A Number of Objections. I wrote to CDC Director David Satcher, listing concretely several of my objections. For example, right on the front page, there is a table headed:

Adults/adolescents living with AIDS, by quarter, January 1988 through

June 1996, adjusted for reporting delays, United States

The graph shows an increase between 1988 and 1996 from about 35,000 to about 220,000. There is a boxed statement, just below the graph:

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a specific group of diseases or conditions which are indicative of severe immunosuppression related to infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

What does “related” mean? Testing HIV positive on some test or other? Caused by HIV? With the use of the word “related”, we see fudging about the role of HIV, as well as another manifestation of the long standing circularity of CDC definitions.

Actually, the above definition, that the diseases or conditions defining AIDS “are indicative of severe immunosuppression”, is inconsistent with the December 1992 definition by the CDC, which defined AIDS to be any one of 29 diseases if and only if the person is also HIV positive. Indeed, one of the defining diseases is a low T-cell count, but about 40% of the 29 diseases defining AIDS in the 1992-1993 CDC list do not involve immunosuppression. For instance, Kaposi’s sarcoma and cervical cancer are not “indicative of severe immunosuppression”, but according to the December 1992 definition, they are among the AIDS defining diseases in the presence of HIV, including cases when there is no immunosuppression. So the definition on the front page of the December 1996 surveillance report is still a new definition, further contributing to the chaotic mess coming out of the CDC.

The wording of the title “living with AIDS” also contributes to the confusion. Does it mean being sick with certain clinical symptoms, or does it mean only being HIV positive? Is there an unstated assumption that such positivity necessarily leads to clinical symptoms of some kind and even death, or what? Is there a justification for such an assumption?

The CDC December 1996 Surveillance Report gives a cumulative figure of “581,429 persons with AIDS reported to CDC” (p. 5, first paragraph). Table 11 p. 17 purportedly reports “AIDS cases…diagnosed through December 1996, United States”. It arrives at such a figure by “cumulative totals”, so depending on three different definitions over 15 years, and depending on the use of “statistical methods” (p. 5, column 1, line -2), but without specifying what these methods were. Thus the figures are manipulated in some undetermined way. So the figure of 581,429 is nonsense, down to the last unit digit.

There are other fundamental problems with this figure. Table 11 purports to give a total number of “AIDS cases” per year 1993 through 1996, broken down into “definition categories”. Under the category “Severe HIV-related immunosuppression”, we find the cumulative total figure 151,131, which is about one-fourth of the 581,429 figure. On p. 36 the CDC explains that the category refers to people who have no symptoms of sickness except a low-T-cell count per se, which is called “AIDS” if and only if it is accompanied by HIV test positivity. The people involved are otherwise healthy.

It emerges further from Table 11’s breakdown that the cumulative numbers given on the front page graph of the CDC Report are very misleading. Indeed, Table 11 shows that if one follows only the 1987 definition, then the number of new “AIDS” cases goes down each year 1993 to 1996 from 28,265 to 8,227. By making up “cumulative” figures as on the front page graph, showing a purported increase from about 35,000 to 220,000, the CDC misrepresents the fact that their own figures using the 1987 definition show a large decline in annual numbers of AIDS cases. The apparent large increase is due to the 1992 change in the definition of “AIDS”, which among other things includes HIV positive people who have no symptoms of disease except a low T-cell count. Such people are called “asymptomatic”. When someone tests HIV positive, this person may not exhibit any symptoms of sickness, but that person’s T-cell count may be measured, and found low, thus giving rise to a diagnosis of “AIDS”. For example, Table 11 claims a total of 36,693 new cases of “AIDS” in 1996, while of these, 22,856 (about 2/3rd) belong to the category of those who show no sign of sickness except low T-cell count and who are HIV positive.

It should be a matter of common sense, let alone scientific standards, to compare T-cell counts in HIV positive and HIV negative people, in other words, to have control groups or what some scientists call “normative data”. The CDC does not provide figures on control groups, any more than some influential purportedly scientific papers, see below. Among the “false assumptions” listed in Root-Bernstein’s article, we find one relevant to HIV and immune suppression:

False Assumptions

…We thought we knew that HIV always precedes immune suppression in people who develop AIDS. But many studies show that lymphocyte counts are as low in some HIV-negative gay men, intravenous drug users, and hemophiliacs as they are in nonsymptomatic HIV-positive people – and sometimes lower.

The first sentence quoted above shows that Root-Bernstein uses the words “develop AIDS” in a sense different from that of the CDC, but left unspecified. The CDC Surveillance Report also introduces the terminology “HIV disease” as in the sentence (p. 5, column 2, line -4):

Through 1996, over 216,000 persons were living with AIDS…However, the cumulative number of persons living with AIDS underrepresents the number of living persons who have been diagnosed with HIV disease because most HIV-infected persons have not yet progressed to AIDS and many persons infected with HIV have not been tested.

There is no explanation of what “HIV disease” means, especially in relation to the 1992 CDC definition. The expression “HIV disease” contains several unstated assumptions, and if these are clarified, the expression may then be incompatible with the official 1992 CDC definition, or the above-mentioned boxed statement. The expression contributes to the general confusion. It also has the insidious effect of inducing people to accept unquestioningly the unstated axiom “HIV causes AIDS”, whatever this means. (See the UCB news release mentioned below in ß5.)

(b) Defective reply from the CDC. I received a reply, not from David Satcher but from John W. Ward M.D., Chief of the Surveillance Branch of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Dr. Ward did not address a single one of the specific criticisms of the Surveillance Report which I had made, nor did he resolve any of the specific problems and incompatibilities which I pointed out. He wrote me only about the boxed statement:

This statement is not, nor was it meant to be construed as, the CDC definition of AIDS. It also is not meant to be a proxy or substitute for the CDC definition of AIDS. Please understand that the “boxed” statement is meant to be a brief comment to serve as a general guide for those readers of the Surveillance Report who are neither prepared nor find it necessary to read the technical notes that accompany the report or follow the technical problems that arise in the models used to derive the report’s estimates.

I then pointed to an official “FACT SHEET”, issued by the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ( This so-called “Fact Sheet” contains a paragraph headed “Definition of AIDS”, essentially reproducing the boxed statement, as follows:

Definition of AIDS

The CDC currently defines AIDS in an adult or adolescent age 13 years or older as the presence of one of 25 conditions indicative of severe immunosuppression associated with HIV infection, such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), or HIV infection in an individual with a CD4+ T cell count less than 200/cells per cubic millimeter (mm3) of blood.

So I wrote back to Satcher: “Here is a contradiction. It’s not just my interpretation of the boxed statement. It is the official view of NIH-NIAID. Thus the NIAID “Fact Sheet” does not contain facts. It contains propaganda. It continues to provide evidence that you guys at NIH, CDC, NIAID can’t tell the difference between a fact and a hole in the ground.” I did not get a further reply from CDC officials.

ß3. Correlation? Some in the orthodoxy claim that there is a “correlation” between the AIDS-defining diseases and the presence of antibodies to HIV, or possibly HIV itself. Even if one admits that such a correlation exists in some specific studies, independently of the above circular definition, a question arises: is HIV a cause or a coincidence? For example, it is generally admitted that smoking in fairly large doses over a fairly long period of time causes lung cancer. This is plausible. One of the main reasons (if not the only reason) for this hypothesis is a correlation between those who smoke a lot and those who develop cancer. But essentially the same correlation exists between lung cancer and yellow fingers. However, yellow fingers do not cause lung cancer. Thus it is essential to answer the question: is HIV a yellow finger?

As already noted in the introduction, some studies show an even higher correlation of AIDS defining diseases and drug use, for instance Kaposi’s sarcoma and nitrite inhalants (poppers). Cf. Challenges.

ß4. Paradoxes and no control groups. Furthermore, aside from a claimed correlation between HIV and AIDS (whichever way AIDS is defined) in certain studies, there is no verification that HIV is pathogenic. Some purportedly scientific papers do assert that “HIV causes AIDS”, but no justification is given for this assertion.

Even worse, the hypothesis that HIV is pathogenic leads to what even some people representing the orthodoxy call “paradoxes”, that is incompatibility with experimental evidence.

So-called scientific articles about HIV and AIDS are written under the automatic assumption that HIV is the cause of certain diseases by killing CD4 T-cells. This hypothesis has been criticized by some medical scientists, even by some of those who uphold the orthodoxy’s axiom that “HIV causes AIDS”.

Some purportedly scientific papers about HIV infection actually do not compare the rate of T4 cells generated in the HIV positive patients with HIV negative controls any more than does the CDC. Among the most famous of such papers are those by David Ho and George Shaw, published in Nature (12 January 1995). The Australian mathematician-statistician Mark Craddock commented as follows on the Ho and Shaw papers in his critical article “HIV: Science by press conference” from the Kluwer collection:

Neither group compared the rate of T4 cells generated in the HIV positive patients with HIV negative controls! Both groups assert that in HIV infected individuals, up to 5% of the circulating T4 cells are replaced every 2 days. This information is hardly new. Peter Duesberg says something similar in a paper in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from 1989. Except he states that 5% of the bodies T cells will be replaced every 2 days, in healthy people.

The lack of control groups is one of the problems with the medical scientific literature, which does not provide appropriate comparisons between different groups (some sick, some not sick, some HIV positive, some HIV negative) to test the claimed correlation between HIV and AIDS.

A letter to the editors. Among others who have objected to the lack of control groups are Bukrinsky, Manogue and Cerami (Picower Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset NY), the authors of a letter to Nature (18 May 1995, p. 195), concerning the Ho and Shaw papers. They stated: “A definitive answer awaits accurate estimates of the turnover and half-life of both proliferating and peripheral CD4+ T cells in healthy individuals, normative data for which the immunological community strangely lacks a robust appraisal.” Ho and Shaw answered the Bukrinsky et al comment quoted above as follows (p. 198): “…we do not understand their logic of comparing our calculated CD4 lymphocyte turnover rates with previous estimates for normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells…” But the logic seems clear to me. I wrote directly to Bukrinsky that in plain English, the fact that turnover of T-cells is the same in Ho & Shaw’s CD lymphocytes as in previous estimates for peripheral blood as in mononuclear cells, constitutes clear evidence that HIV is neither the cause of T-cell destruction, nor of harm to the immune system. The lack of control groups and the lack of “robust appraisal” has caused a systematic bias for the interpretation of the data in favor of HIV pathogenesis. Thus I don’t find the lack of control groups “strange”; I find it highly objectionable. It provides direct evidence for not trusting results which claim to analyze HIV pathogenesis. I asked Bukrinsky to straighten me out if I was mistaken. I did not get a reply from him.

ß5. Contradictory models: Ho and Shaw; Pakker et al, Gorochov et al, Roederer; Hellerstein et al. Ho and Shaw (among other authors) engage in the practice of throwing math and statistics at people, pretending to give a mathematical model for HIV infection and its purported effects, namely the destruction of CD4 T-cells. There is developing a substantial history of criticisms of these papers. We have already mentioned some criticisms in the preceding section, concerning control groups. We now list other criticisms which have developed over the last five years.

1994. Root-Bernstein. A year before the Ho and Shaw article in Nature, one of the “false assumptions” listed by Root-Bernstein concerned the killing of T-cells by HIV, and was challenged as follows:

False Assumptions

…An example of something we thought we knew, but did not, is that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the direct cause of T-cell killing in AIDS. Even such formerly stalwart proponents of this notion as Anthony Faucy and Robert Gallo now admit that this is not the case. Virtually all HIV research is now focused on finding indirect mechanisms by which HIV may cause immune suppression.

1995. Letters to the editor in Nature. Already on 18 May 1995, Nature published six pages of letters to the editor. Many of these letters represented various forms of criticisms of the Ho and Shaw articles, such as the one by Bukrinsky mentioned above. As another example, the medical scientists Ascher et al had a letter (p. 196), stating that “those who would see AIDS as a more-or-less conventional viral infection have consistently refused to recognize the paradoxes that are clearly evident in the experimental data. The problem continues.” They mention a specific “paradox”, that “there are more bodies than bullets [HIV]”.

1996. Mark Craddock in his Kluwer collection article wrote: “The logic [of Ho and Shaw] here is remarkable. It is claimed that HIV sends the immune system into overdrive as measured by a supposedly accelerated production of T4 cells…But where are the healthy controls? How can this production of T cells be ascribed to HIV if there is no comparison made with healthy people? And even if there were a comparison, how can the production be unambiguously attributed to the ‘battle’ with HIV? The patients in both study groups were being treated with new drugs such as Nevarapine (we are naturally told nothing of possible toxic side effects of these drugs) whose effects are largely unknown. So how can these results be extrapolated to HIV positive people who are not taking these drugs? It must surely be admitted that the system they are trying to study, namely the interaction of HIV with T4 cells, might behave substantially differently in people who are not being pumped full of new drugs, in addition to ‘antiretrovirals’ like Zidovudine [AZT]? Yet HIV ‘science’ has declined so far that these elementary questions are addressed neither by the research groups themselves, nor the referees at Nature whose job it is to critique the papers before publication.”

1997. Arthur Gottlieb wrote to me on 16 May 1997: “I might say that I have been skeptical of the validity of the Ho/Shaw model for several reasons, but principally because it is based on observations in subjects who were therapeutically perturbed by use of a protease inhibitor…I think there is more than a matter of scientific debate here…The Ho/Shaw model is now a widely accepted paradigm for HIV pathogenesis. Moreover, it is being used as a basis for therapeutic guidelines in respect of HIV (“treat early and hard”). That, I think is of concern, if indeed there are serious questions about the validity of the model. It would be good to have your views on this.”

My view is that the model is not rooted in experimental evidence, it is incompatible with experimental evidence in certain respects, and it does not take into account the possibly toxic effects of drugs in general and prescription drugs in particular. Cf. the previous items.

1998. Pakker et al., Gorochov et al., Mario Roederer. In any case more fundamental criticisms have arisen, some even coming from members of the orthodoxy. In February 1998, Nature Medicine published two technical articles and one commentary by Mario Roederer, a professor at the Stanford Medical School, who wrote (p. 145):

In this issue of Nature Medicine, reports by Pakker et al and Gorochov et al provide the final nails in the coffin for models of T cell dynamics in which a major reason for changes in T cell numbers is the death of HIV-infected cells.

On the other hand, Roederer (like other critics of the Ho et al article) accepted uncritically the axiom that HIV destroys the immune system, but he provided no justification for this axiom. At the same time he recognized that he and other medical scientists do not know how HIV destroys the immune system, when he concluded:

Finally, the facts (1) that HIV uses CD4 as its primary receptor, and (2) that CD4+ T cell numbers decline during AIDS, are only an unfortunate coincidence that have led us astray from understanding the immunopathogenesis of this disease. HIV leads to the progressive destruction of all T cell subsets, irrespective of CD4 expression. Ultimately, AIDS is a disease of perturbed homeostasis. Only when we understand how the body regulates T cell numbers will we be able to find the mechanism(s) by which HIV destroys the immune system.

Roederer’s assertion “HIV leads to the progressive destruction of all T cell subsets” was and remains unsupported. What does “lead” mean, and what is the evidence for the assertion if “leads” means “causes in some fashion”? No evidence is given in the Roederer article.

1999. Hellerstein et al. Bay Area medical centers findings inconsistent with the Ho and Shaw articles. A year later, Nature Medicine (January 1999) published further criticisms of the David Ho article, partly reinforcing Roederer’s “nail in the coffin”, and partly going in other directions. These criticisms came from researchers Hellerstein et al at San Francisco General Hospital, UCSF and UC Berkeley.

(a) Accelerated production or destruction of CD4+ T cells? The Ho and Shaw articles in Nature had claimed an original increase of T-cell production following HIV infection, in conjunction with high replication of the HIV virus. The Ho et al article concluded: “Taken together, our findings strongly support the view that AIDS is primarily a consequence of continuous, high-level replication of HIV-1, leading to virus- and immune-mediated killing of CD4 lymphocytes.” On the other hand, Hellerstein et al write in opposition to these claims:

p. 87. The CD4 lymphopenia of HIV-infection was associated with reduced survival (shorter half-life) of CD4+ T cells in the circulation combined with an inability to increase production of CD4 cells in compensation. Although we cannot identify the reason for the failure to increase CD4+ T-cell production…our results are inconsistent with a highly accelerated destruction of circulating CD4+ T cells that overcomes a higher than normal total production rate…

Of course, it becomes important to determine the reasons for the discrepancy between the Ho-Shaw articles and the Hellerstein article. Do they have to do with differences in the people in their samples? With samples which are not statistically significant? With different techniques? With unrecognized artifacts? Ad lib.

In any case, like Roederer, the authors of the new study in Nature Medicine accept HIV pathogenesis as an unquestioned axiom. They interpret the data in this context. But the data do not provide evidence for the axiom. The findings do NOT show that a shorter half-life and inability to increase production of CD4+ cells is due to HIV (according to Hellerstein et al.).

(b) HIV causality? HAART? Clinical measurements were done on a rather small sample of 21 people, classified into three groups: nine “healthy” HIV negative subjects (six men and three women) who were not taking any medications; seven HIV positive subjects (six men and one woman) with a low CD4 level; and five HIV positive men who had received HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy) for 12 weeks. All in the group were called “patients” in a UC press release and subsequent newspaper article (see below). Which ones of the latter two categories were actually patients in the ordinary sense of the word (sick in bed, in bad shape)? How was the sample of non-“healthy” (sick?) subjects (patients?) selected? Was it according to the circular CDC definition, so they are all automatically HIV positive, thereby biasing the statistics? How do the researchers know that HIV and not some other agent such as poppers caused “reduced survival (a shorter half-life)” of CD4+ T-cells? Was a low T-cell count the only sign of non-healthyness (sickness?) or were there other signs? In which sample category (“patients”)? How many of the “healthy” resp. non-healthy or sick-in-bed people in the sample had taken poppers (resp. other drugs) and in what quantity over what period of time? Was there even a single “patient” (sick-in-bed, other?) who was not exposed to poppers (resp. some other drug)? None of these questions are addressed. The apparently gratuitous assumption that HIV is the cause (and only cause) of non-healthyness (sickness?) in the people forming the sample biases the data and prejudices the way conclusions are formulated.

Similar criticisms have been applied before to a 1993 study based on a sample from the San Francisco Men’s Health Club. My first Yale Scientific article (Fall 1994) dealt with this matter. Cf. my book Challenges, the chapter on HIV and AIDS, pp. 642-648. There I give complete references to the original study in Nature, and to the criticisms by Ellison, Downey and Duesberg, first published in Genetica (1995) and reproduced in the Kluwer collection. They found that 100% of the sick men in the sample had used nitrites, while 83% were HIV positive.

The “uninfected control group” of Hellerstein et al was a group of people called “healthy”. To answer the question whether it is HIV or other factors such as poppers (nitrite inhalants) or other drugs which cause certain diseases in certain risk groups, an “uninfected control group” of healthy people is much less relevant than a control group consisting of HIV-negative people who are sick with the same symptoms as HIV-positive people called “AIDS patients” (see below). Actually, one has to take into account all possible combinations of HIV positive, HIV negative, poppers taking, poppers non-taking (as well as other drugs).

One also has to take into account the role of prescription drugs. Are HIV negative but sick people with the same symptoms also treated with AZT and protease inhibitors? What is the effect on T-cells of AZT, or protease inhibitors, or whatever purportedly anti-HIV prescription was administered to the AIDS patients?

(c) Effect of anti-retroviral drugs. The data given in the Hellerstein et al article show that T-cell turnover increases in the group exposed to anti-retroviral drugs. Hellerstein et al’s data concern in part the effect of HAART. At least three assertions in the Hellerstein et al paper not only go against previous interpretations of data as in the Ho and Shaw articles, but support the hypothesis that HAART is toxic and harms the immune system:

p. 84. The total (CD4+ and CD8+) T cell production rate was significantly higher in the subjects of HAART… than in the untreated HIV-1 seropositive group…or in the HIV-1 seronegative group…The main kinetic difference in the HAART group was therefore higher production rates of circulating T-cells and shorter (not longer) half-lives…

p. 85. This analysis confirms that the rate of removal of CD4+ T cells is indeed elevated and the half-life is indeed shortened in the HAART group…

p. 86. The results are not consistent with other possibilities, including prolonged survival of circulating T cells due to cessation of HIV-mediated killing (because the half-life of circulating T cells was shorter, not longer, in the HAART Group);…

Thus the data point in the same direction as the Drug-AIDS hypothesis, and are compatible with this hypothesis and with the hypothesis that HIV itself is not a cause of diseases and does not affect T-cell longevity, namely “reduced survival (half life)”. Figures in support of the results are shown in a table p. 86. However, overall this table is subject to many questions as to the meaning of terms used and possible statistical and scientific bias. For instance, the data concern the three groups: “Normal controls”, “HIV+(viremic)”, and “HAART (12 weeks)”. The “normal controls” are “healthy”. The “viremic” is supposed to refer to “viral load”, but no HIV virus is ever directly measured in patients. What is measured is something which is then interpreted as a virus which engages somehow in a deadly battle with the immune system. In any case, the use made of the HIV+(viremic) group in the table as far as one can tell is based on the same circularity as the CDC definition of AIDS, with its assumption of HIV pathogenesis and causality, which prevents an unbiased evaluation whether it is HIV or another factor (e.g. drugs) which cause sickness.

Then one faces contradictory interpretations, such as those of Ho and the Bay Area researchers, but the debate does not extend to questioning HIV pathogenesis.

The Rasnick letter to the editors. David Rasnick, President of The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of HIV/AIDS, submitted for publication a 400-words letter to the editors of Nature Medicine in January 1999. Based on the authors’ analysis (see especially p. 85 cited above), he wrote: “In other words, HAART is accomplishing what HIV is supposed to be doing, i.e. shortening the survival time of T cells…HAART…may represent yet another toxic consequence of combination therapy. If this explanation is correct, it should be easily tested in HIV negative volunteers or animals.”

David Rasnick’s letter was acknowledged, but rejected for publication.

Science by press conference. Some findings of Hellerstein et al were brought to broader public attention in a press release on 4 January 1999, followed by an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. I quote from them to document further the way people at large are conditioned to think about HIV and AIDS. We start with the press release.


University of California at Berkeley

Major clinical findings by California AIDS team: HIV does more than kill off T-cells

By Corinna Kaarlela, UC San Francisco News Office

BERKELEY – A team of California AIDS researchers has found the first direct clinical evidence that HIV does more than kill off T cells in the body’s immune system. The skillful virus also prevents the production of new healthy versions of these vital cells…

The findings are significant in understanding the puzzle of T-cell turnover in the HIV population, an area that has remained controversial among leading AIDS researchers who have proposed different theories to explain why T-cell counts decrease during the course of HIV disease.

…The precise mechanism that HIV uses to derail the different parts of this process have been unclear, but the end result is a collapse of the immune system that makes the body vulnerable to the opportunistic infections that cause full-blown AIDS.

It had been previously thought by many investigators that HIV decreased the T-cell count by causing the destruction of these cells. The new studies indicate that a more important contribution to disease may be the ability to stop T-cell production…

Study participants included both men and women, and all were patients in the General Clinical Research Center at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center…

Major findings include:…

*In untreated HIV-positive patients, CD4 and CD8 cells were being destroyed at a more rapid pace than in HIV negative subjects and the body did not compensate by increasing the rate of production above the normal rate. Accordingly the T-cell count decreased.

*In HIV-positive patients whose virus was suppressed by potent therapy and whose T-cell counts increased, the rate of new cell production increased dramatically. The rise in new cell production was responsible for the increase in T-cell count…

Readers acquainted with facts will appreciate the above tendentious account, starting with the expressions “does more than kill off T-cells” and “skillful virus”. Note especially that the press release made no mention of the possible toxic effect of HAART, and misrepresented measured signs in the HAART group, namely decrease of the half life of T-cells and increase of their turnover rate.

The claims of Hellerstein et al countering those of David Ho (among others) were then reported in the San Francisco Chronicle (5 January 1999), about 1,500 words starting on the front page.

Study Offers New Theory On How HIV Attacks Cells

Findings contradict widely held view


Using a new technique for tracking the life and death of immune cells, Bay Area AIDS researchers have found that HIV causes the deadly disease primarily by blocking the production and shortening the survival time of infection-fighting T cells.

That runs counter to the widely held view among AIDS scientists that HIV strikes mainly by killing T cells, the body’s front-line defenders, as fast as the immune system can produce them…The controversial new findings include the first direct measurements showing how the human immune system becomes locked in a lethal battle with the AIDS virus. The results challenge a core tenet in the scientific dogma of AIDS, a view that has dominated the field ever since a landmark 1995 study co-authored by famed New York AIDS expert David Ho…

They [the authors of the Nature Medicine article] spent more than a year studying immune systems in healthy people and in 21 AIDS patients being treated at San Francisco General Hospital. This produced what the authors described as the first direct clinical measurements of immune system activity both in AIDS patients and an uninfected control group.

Results found no T-cell speed-up-and-collapse pattern in the infected people. What researchers found instead was that, along with reduced cell longevity, the virus caused slower cell production – the opposite of what had been assumed to occur during this critical stage of the disease.

– The Chronicle’s expression “slower cell production” is not accurate. Hellerstein et al write of “reduced survival (shorter half-life)” and “inability to increase production of CD4+ cells in compensation”.

– The findings do not show “how the human immune system becomes locked in a lethal battle with the AIDS virus” nor do they show that the virus caused “slower cell production”.

– There were not “21 AIDS patients”. In the group of 21 people studied by Hellerstein et al, 9 were characterized as “healthy”, so at most 12 could be regarded as “patients” in the ordinary sense of the word.

– The original Nature-Medicine article does not use the terms “AIDS” or “AIDS patients”. The authors write of HIV-positive or negative people, so the journalist goes beyond them in communicating interpretations to the public at large. He is to some extent following the UC press release, which does refer to “patients”.

– The Chronicle, like the UC press release, does not report any of the data showing that HAART may be toxic.

– Like Roederer, Hellerstein et al, and the UC press release, the journalist of the Chronicle accepts unquestioningly the axiom of HIV pathogenesis.

The direct criticisms coming from the Roederer and Hellerstein et al articles and the publicity given to the latter by the San Francisco Chronicle show that it is now sociologically acceptable in some important establishment quarters to dump on David Ho et al’s January 1995 Nature article. To question the HIV pathogenesis hypothesis is another matter, which still entails social, scientific and financial ostracism when coming from someone inside the bio-medical establishment.

ß6. Defective journalism. I don’t know of any wide repercussion of the January 1999 Nature-Medicine Hellerstein article in the mainstream press other than in the SF Chronicle. For example, as of the end of January 1999, the New York Times to my knowledge did not report the conclusions of those researchers in the Bay area. Thus newspapers at large skew the information which they communicate to their readers, including the information that different researchers come to different conclusions. Just on this basis, one is entitled to be skeptical about the basic undocumented assumption that HIV is pathogenic. Science (15 January 1999, p. 305) did report the different conclusions, but the article is also subject to most of the other criticisms I have leveled above against the press release and SF Chronicle.

Scientific American. Magazines in between the ordinary mainstream press and the technical journals like Science and Nature have gone along with the orthodoxy, for instance Scientific American which over the last few years has published two long reports on HIV and AIDS. The second in July 1998 was 27 pages long. It is contradicted by the articles which I have cited above, among other items which to list in full would take a book. For instance, the Scientific American July 1998 Report starts p. 81: “Ten years ago…scientists knew that the disease [AIDS]…was caused by HIV.” The Roederer conclusion contradicts this assertion, since Roederer recognizes that we don’t know “the mechanism(s) by which HIV destroys the immune system”, and contributes to the public correction of false notions about the effect of HIV on T-cells (cf. his “nail in the coffin”). Later in the Scientific American Report p. 85 we find: “At the start of an infection, hefty viral replication and the killing of CD4 T cells are made manifest both by high levels of HIV in the blood and by a dramatic drop in CD4 T cell concentrations from the normal level of at least 800 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.” This is contradicted by Root-Bernstein’s evaluation of “false assumptions” (see ß2), by Roederer’s conclusions (“nail in the coffin”) based on Pakker-Gorochov, and by the subsequent Hellerstein et al article in Nature Medicine January 1999 reported in the SF Chronicle.

In addition we can also quote further from the 1994 article by Root-Bernstein in The Scientist:

We also thought we knew that HIV alone is sufficient to cause AIDS. But such researchers as Luc Montagnier, Shyh-Ching Lo, Joseph Sonnabend, and many others — including me — now believe that cofactors are necessary and, therefore, that HIV by itself cannot cause AIDS.

Thus if one follows up the scientific and semi-scientific literature, one systematically encounters contradictions.

Be it said in passing that I also have a problem with Root-Bernstein’s use of the expression “now believe”. What is the significance of such an expression? I am not concerned with “beliefs” but with evidence. I would prefer a clear sentence concerning the evaluation of evidence by him and the others he mentions, even though there is an implication that what he and the others believe would not go against empirical evidence. Throwing in “cofactors” is another way to blur distinctions between an assumption, a fact, a hypothesis, a belief, and empirical evidence about which factors cause or do not cause AIDS defining diseases.

The Rasnick letter to the editors. David Rasnick submitted for publication a letter to the editors of Scientific American. He listed some of the false statements in the Scientific American report, and pointed to contradictions with the Pakker-Gorochov-Roederer publication in Nature Medicine. He asked for evidence to support some other statements.

Rasnick also commented on the contribution to the report by John Mellors, who had written that “viral-load measures have therefore replaced assessment of clinical outcome in therapeutic trials…” Thus according to Mellors, medical prescriptions are made on the assumption that whatever sickness exists or may develop is due to a virus. In this way, not only is the definition of AIDS circular, but medical decisions having life and death consequences are based on this circularity. As Rasnick wrote in his letter to the editors: “If Mellors is correct, then whether patients live longer or do better when taking experimental drugs compared to drug-free controls is no longer the basis for determining the efficacy and safety of drugs. This is a frightening prospect.”

A translation into french of the Scientific American report was published in September 1998 by Pour la Science, thus spreading the propaganda over the ocean. At the same time, Pour la Science refused publication of some critical comments which I had communicated to them concerning that report. In particular, they took no account of Rasnick’s letter to the editors.

Rasnick’s letter was neither acknowledged nor published by Scientific American, whose November 1998 issue contained only two printed letters to the editor concerning the July report on HIV/AIDS. These letters were preceded by an editorial commentary at the top of the page:

Readers appreciated the July special report, “Defeating AIDS: What Will it Take?” Dave Toms wrote via e-mail, “Thanks so much for the excellent articles on what’s happening with HIV…And John Casten sent e-mail about taking a copy on a trip to Kathmandu: “I gave it to a friend who works for Family Health International in the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program. He was thrilled to read all the articles with the latest information and passed it around the office.”

Thus the commentary cited two self-serving favorable reactions from readers in addition to those two whose letters were printed. No mention was made of any letters which criticized the report, let alone mention of the Rasnick letter. The last sentence of the editorial commentary is dishonest by omission when it states: “Some readers did have questions, however, about the possibility of developing a vaccine and feasible prevention methods (below).” Not only did some readers have questions about developing a vaccine, but some readers had questions and documentation about the factual (in)accuracy of statements in the Scientific American report, as well as critical comments about using viral load instead of clinical symptoms to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs. Thus Scientific American continues its tendentiously selective journalism, by not informing its readers of:

– published information raising questions about the orthodox view, as in the Pakker-Gorochov articles analyzed by Roederer in Nature Medicine February 1998;

– specific criticisms raised in certain letters to the editor, such as the Rasnick letter.

ß7. Efficacy and safety of prescription drugs. The Emerson case in Maine. Medical prescription drugs may also be the cause of diseases attributed to HIV. As already mentioned, the higher T-cell turnover in patients subjected to HAART (see ß5(c)) points in the same direction as the drug hypothesis. If a person tests HIV positive, some doctors prescribe AZT, which is a DNA chain terminator. There is some evidence that AZT may then cause that person to become sick and possibly die.

For example, recently in the State of Maine in the USA, a woman Valerie Emerson with four children was HIV positive, as well as her 3 year old daughter and 4 year old son. The other two children did not test positive. The two who were positive were declared to have AIDS and were prescribed AZT. The little girl died, suffering terribly. Her death was attributed to AIDS by the newspapers. The son Nikolas had some health problems since birth (swollen lymph glands, physical development problems). However, some doctors said he had AIDS, and he was given AZT. He then became seriously ill. The mother discontinued the AZT treatment, and the son became well. The pre-AZT problems themselves disappeared. However, officials of the State of Maine then started legal action against the mother to take the child away from her. In September 1998, a judge ruled against the officials. The boy is now running around like any healthy four year old. As the mother wrote to Rasnick: “I was so scared my son’s life was going to be sacrificed for research.” (Her full letter and details of the case are reproduced in Reappraising AIDS, October 1998, p. 5.) The judge wrote in his ruling:

She feels that she has willingly and in good faith surrendered up the life of one child to the best treatment medicine has to offer and does not want to do the same with the next… She has placed her faith in this medical approach in the past and has lost a child. She has discontinued her own treatment with no apparent present ill-effects. She has observed an outward improvement in her sick son’s condition with a discontinuance of drug therapy. The State of Maine is now in no position to tell her in the face of her unique experience that she is wrong in her current judgment to wait for better and more reliable treatment methods… the current body of information available to any mother in her situation is limited or conflicting. The court agrees with Nikolas’s treating family physician that his mother’s decision, while not necessarily the one many parents may make in the same circumstances, does not constitute serious parental neglect.

The judge’s ruling gave rise to an Associated Press item, and to subsequent news articles. The New York Times reported the case on 20 September 1998 somewhat tendentiously. As a result, David Rasnick wrote a letter to the editors, stating:

…I wish to correct a few misleading statements…the author made Nikolas’ suffering from 10 weeks of AZT poisoning appear benign: “…in that time he became fussy, whimpered in his sleep and suffered from continuous stomach aches.” The author failed to mention that during the 10 weeks Nikolas was on AZT he experienced “night terrors” from which he woke screaming…

…his knees grew to twice their normal size when he was on AZT, he even required a blood transfusion because the AZT was destroying his bone marrow. Most importantly within a couple of days (not “two months”) after [his mother] Valerie stopped giving Nikolas the AZT, his health immediately improved…

…the author softened my testimony: “Two scientists, testifying on behalf of Miss Emerson at the daylong trial, said that the recommended treatment of a combination of medications administered as a drug cocktail could cause more harm than good.” What I really said was much stronger: those drugs would kill Nikolas. I also testified that if Nikolas does not take those anti-HIV drugs he has the same likelihood as any other 4 year-old of reaching a ripe old age.

Rasnick’s letter was not published.

ß8. Withholding information. Articles outside the mainstream press. The mainstream mass media withhold data and information which may lead people to question the orthodoxy about the pathogenesis of HIV, and to wonder about the effects of prescription drugs such as AZT. They do not report the uncertainties contained in articles such as the Pakker-Gorochov-Roederer articles (with exceptions such as the article by the SF Chronicle mentioned in ß5 above on Hellerstein et al.). They do not report, let alone answer, articles published by some medical scientists outside the regular medical or scientific journals, such as those published by a bunch of German and Swiss medical scientists in the dissenting magazine Continuum (from 1996 to 1998, cf. the bibliography). The authors include Alfred H‰ssig, Professor Emeritus at the University of Bern and former Director of the Swiss Red Cross Transfusion Service and former President of the Board of Trustees of the International Society of Blood transfusion; and Heinrich Kremer, M.D., former medical director of the Specialist Clinic for Juvenile and Young Adult Drug Offenders for five German counties, including Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg. With colleagues, H‰ssig formed the Study Group for Nutrition and Immunity in Bern, Switzerland. This Study Group has occasionally given support to Continuum. The article in Continuum is headlined by the statement:

The continuous failure in the prevention and treatment of AIDS is rooted in the misinterpretation of an inflammatory autoimmune process as a lethal, viral venereal disease

Most of the article is written in fairly technical language. It is five magazine pages long, plus one page of technical bio-medical references. The authors question the HIV/AIDS orthodoxy in many respects. Here is a sample of some least technical sentences:

AIDS patients quite often demonstrate a weakening of their skeletal muscles. Up to 1990 this was considered a H1-virus-caused impairment of muscles. In 1990 Dalakas et al demonstrated that this kind of muscle disease is due to an administration of AZT, weakening the mitochondria within muscle cells. With the excessive release of free radicals the mitochondria are affected in their function of forming ATP as key substance in metabolic energy.56 …

During the latest international congress of leading HIV scientists the long-term criticism of the HIV/AIDS theory has been confirmed: despite intense and precise investigations there was no proof of pathophysiological mechanism explaining the different reaction of CD4- and CD8- lymphocytes to the postulated retrovirus HIV.48 It was literally stated: “The riddle of CD4 cell loss remains unresolved.”

The last sentence of the article repeats the conclusion of the headline: “Obviously AIDS is not a viral venereal disease, but an inflammatory autoimmune process.”

I am disturbed to see articles by personalities with strong medical credentials such as Kremer and H‰ssig in Continuum rather than in the mainstream magazines such as Scientific American, or the mainstream newspapers such as the New York Times. The July 1998 Scientific American HIV/AIDS Report is contradicted not only by the Pakker-Gorochov-Roederer articles, but also by the above mentioned Continuum article and its footnoted documentation. If Scientific American and the New York Times opened their pages to informed people with a substantial technical background, and to an open, documented discussion instead of being conduits for a powerful orthodoxy, there would be no need for a publication such as Continuum. Scientific American or the New York Times would be upholding classical standards of scientific discourse instead of acting like the purveyors of a religious dogma, with their ex-cathedra unsubstantiated assertions.

As it is, to get complementary or unskewed information about the HIV/AIDS situation, one has to go to other publications, such as Continuum, Reappraising AIDS, and sporadic publications, for instance those containing articles by Celia Farber who used to publish in SPIN, and has recently published in Mothering magazine (September-October 1998, cf. Reappraising AIDS, September 1998, p. 4). Peggy O’Mara, editor of Mothering, preceded the Celia Farber articles with a strong and long editorial statement about journalistic responsibilities (2 pages), stating in part:

As a magazine that advocates for families, we feel a special responsibility to inform parents about new information as soon as we verify it. While customs and fashions change, we as parents are the only ones who will live with our decisions. And our healthcare decisions can have long-ranging effects…

A vigorous public debate is the cornerstone of a democratic society. Facilitating this debate is the responsibility of a free press…As parents we can’t afford to be satisfied with easy answers or assumed facts. We have to verify our facts. The lives of our family members may depend on it…

It is in the context of this responsibility – and with full awareness of my enormous privilege as a journalist – that we present in this issue a controversial look at HIV, AIDS, and AZT…

While new drugs and new procedures often save lives, the only protection we have as consumers from those that do not is informed consent…

The requirements for informed consent are as follows: 1. The practitioner must disclose all information, including risks and benefits, that a reasonable person would need to know in order to make a decision. 2. The one consenting must be competent and must understand the information provided. 3. The consent must be given voluntarily and without coercion. Typically, some practitioners will doubt the capacity of their patients to make rational, informed decisions. However, this claim is not supported by evidence…

Current treatment of HIV-positive mothers violates all known standards of informed consent as set down by US jurisprudence, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, and the International Childbirth Education Association. Because pregnancy is one of 64 “conditions” that can cause a woman to falsely test positive for HIV, many pregnant women with no risk factors or symptoms will be subjected to the standard treatment for HIV, treatment that can put their lives and the lives of their babies at risk.

The hysteria over HIV and AIDS violates the sacredness of the pregnant woman and the newborn and overrides standards of informed consent that are decades old, as well as almost 85 years of legally guaranteed autonomy and self-determination. It is with deep concern that we present a minority look at the impossible choices facing HIV-positive pregnant women.

The Celia Farber articles themselves discuss the problems which arise from the enforcement of the orthodoxy and the “impossible choices”, especially preventing breast feeding from mothers testing HIV positive and forcing mothers to give AZT to an HIV-positive child under the threat that the child will be taken away if the mother does not do so. Celia Farber challenges the position of Dr. Ellen Cooper, principal researcher of Women and Infants Transmission Study (an ongoing federal research program), that “HIV is always fatal”, and that the risks of AZT are “minimal”.

Her articles contain a one-page statement headed “Does HIV Cause AIDS?”, and starting: “The notion that the HIV virus may not be the real cause of AIDS leaves some people dumbfounded, and others furious.” The statement concludes: “Although he has been harshly derided and denounced for his views – his once-generous funding has been cut off – Duesberg is far from alone in his views…At present the debate is at a standstill. The HIV hypothesis reigns, and most AIDS scientists are obliged to view Duesberg and the other HIV dissenters as deluded. But as more people live with an HIV-positive status without getting sick, many observers inside the medical community and without are beginning to think maybe Duesberg isn’t the one who is deluded after all.” That Mothering is now publishing such dissenting information about HIV represents a great journalistic advance in making questions about HIV available to the public.

When magazines such as Scientific American and newspapers such as the New York Times, do not publish “a minority look” (well-documented) at “impossible choices” and at aspects of HIV which go against the orthodoxy, they are obstructing the possibility for the public to make informed decisions.

By not publishing information going counter to the orthodoxy, the mainstream media may be causing a great deal of harm, medical or psychological, in many ways. They also lose their credibility because one has to look elsewhere for information countering the HIV orthodoxy.

Dangerous? Sometimes when I have given a talk on HIV, questioning the orthodoxy, members of the bio-medical establishment have not come to my talk and have refused to answer scientific questions, giving to colleagues the reason that what I do “is dangerous”. But I regard as dangerous to censor or suppress information, and to allow a situation to develop when people appear unable to distinguish between facts and an orthodox view. The orthodox view is accepted uncritically by people at large as a result of mass conditioning by the media’s uncritical acceptance of the scientific orthodoxy, and the refusal to publish information which goes counter to the orthodoxy. It may also be dangerous not to tell people that poppers may be dangerous to their health.

Conclusion. Of course, there are still many items that I have not discussed: different risk groups (e.g. haemophiliacs, intravenous drug users), what is called AIDS in other parts of the world (e.g. Africa), more cases of contradictions in official statistics from various sources (especially the CDC and the World Health Organization) over two decades, etc. Some of these items are discussed in Challenges. However, the items I have included in the present article will give readers an idea of the numerous objections which have been made against the hypothesis of HIV pathogenesis and the axiom that “HIV causes AIDS”. Interested persons can also consult the forthcoming survey of the drug-AIDS hypothesis by Duesberg and Rasnick in Genetica, with updated references. They can also consult Continuum and Reappraising AIDS on an ongoing basis.



P. DUESBERG and D. RASNICK, The AIDS dilemma: drug diseases blamed on a passenger virus,

Genetica 104 (1998) pp. 85-142;

see also Duesberg’s web site:


15 Years of AIDS, Continuum Vol 5 No. 3, spring 1998 pp. 33-37

[The footnoted references 11-14 in the above article are papers published by these authors

in the more technical journal Schweiz Zschr Ganzheits Med in 1996 and 1997.]

H. KREMER, S. LANKA & A. HƒSSIG, AIDS: Death by Prescription,

Continuum July/August 1996; see also

Continuum , 172 Foundling Court, Brunswick Center, London WC1N 1QE England

Reappraising AIDS, publication of The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the

HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, 7514 Girard Ave #1-331, La Jolla Calif 92037

( (734-467-7339)

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