By Nicholas Regush ABCNEWS.com Oct. 13, 1999
AIDS science needs rethinking. It needs fresh ideas. New leaders. Different patterns of funding. And more than anything, the public needs to know that there are scientists who strongly object to the mainstream theory that HIV causes AIDS. What AIDS science needs to abandon quickly is the destructive attitude that anyone who questions the dominant theory is a threat to public health. This position is shameful in a so-called democratic society. Such an unscientific stance rings of insecurity, ego and career protection. The smell of big money is also attached to this outrageous behavior.
Billions of dollars have already been spent on HIV research in one form or another for more than two decades. Libraries of scientific articles have been published about the so-called AIDS virus. To what end? Do we have a better understanding of how HIV causes the immune destruction that leads to AIDS? I think not. There certainly are a large number of competing theories of how the "virus" indirectly can cause damage, but there is little reliable evidence. One of the hallmarks of AIDS science is that speculation and leaps of faith are often substituted for good data. The politics are so enmeshed with science that it's often difficult to pull them apart.
Questions About Treatment
Do we have a treatment approach for AIDS that extends lives? Who really knows? The appropriate studies have not been carried out. A lot of promises and hopeful predictions spurred the widespread use of drug combination therapies or cocktails. Now there is mounting concern, even among many mainstream scientists, about the severe toxic side effects and the narrow vision of only targeting HIV with these drugs as opposed to a broader approach that could help people with AIDS boost their immune systems. And where is the vaccine that was dangled before the public when it was first announced in 1984 that the cause of AIDS had been discovered?
The Media View
Of course, if you regularly read print stories and watch TV reports about HIV research, it might be easy to get the impression that AIDS is close to being conquered. (It’s) Just one step away from an HIV breakthrough. I find this to be appalling. The mainstream newspapers and TV news shows that do this should reform themselves. The reporters should stop snuggling up to the leaders of HIV research, put their sycophant hats away and do some enterprise digging. I find it particularly troubling that the so-called newspaper of record, The New York Times ("All the news that's fit to print"), has been asleep on HIV and AIDS controversies since the epidemic began. A cheeky article now and then on alternative thinking doesn't fit the bill. They need to change their motto. (I'll leave that one to your imagination.)
The other people with blinders on are some of the so-called "AIDS activists." I'm speaking here mainly about groups and individuals that have become too cozy with mainstream HIV researchers, government officials and, yes, companies making AIDS drugs. They tend to mimic the politics and practices of the "experts." Sorry, this is not activism; it's a sad and twisted form of obedience to the status quo. I don't want to give you the impression that I know what truly causes AIDS. However, I'm sure you appreciate by now that I have great difficulty with HIV theory. As a science reporter in print and TV news, I've tracked studies about HIV from the day it was heralded as the cause of AIDS. I've long believed the sole focus on the "virus" has been highly simplistic, and that the body will prove to be much more complex in producing disease than mainstream AIDS science suggests.
Meeting of Different Minds
It's important to society that other ideas about AIDS become more public and that scientists agree to debate contentious issues about HIV. This means symposia sponsored by academic institutions, foundations and philanthropists and journals opening the door to editorial positions and a broader blend of science as it pertains to AIDS. If I had the opportunity to invite some of the people who question HIV to a major conference, the names that follow would certainly be among them:
He is the University of California, Berkeley, microbiologist who did the most to launch a critical view of HIV. He warned back in the mid-''80s that science would eventually lose the public's trust if it didn't reconsider the HIV theory of AIDS. Early on, Duesberg, an expert on retroviruses - the family to which HIV belongs - questioned the ability of HIV to damage the immune system. This type of virus does not kill cells, he wrote. HIV was merely a harmless passenger virus, hanging out in the body while the true cause of AIDS created the destruction. Duesberg stands by this view today in the face of numerous theories offered by HIV researchers about how the "virus" is the culprit. As an alternative to HIV theory, Duesberg has proposed that widespread drug use - street and prescription drugs, and anti-AIDS drugs like AZT - causes the immune breakdown. For a thorough look at the Duesberg position, you might read his book, Inventing the AIDS Virus (Regnery). Also, an excellent source for his papers is virusmyth.com. This Web site also provides the most exhaustive resources on alternative thinking about AIDS.
She is a scientist at the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia and one of a group of researchers who propose that cells that are damaged due to cumulative toxic hits, including drugs and infections, can give rise to the genetic expression of an ancient retroviral sequence already entwined in human cells. In other words, what mainstream AIDS researchers are calling HIV is really the activation of an individual's own genetic material. The body then produces antibodies to this form of genetic expression. The true cause of AIDS, according to the "Perth Group" is the assault on cells that leads to this "endogenous" effect. The credible and detailed science of the Perth Group is voluminous and technical, although there are some papers that are more accessible to the lay reader. Their work can also be found at virusmyth.com.
He is a scientist at Michigan State University and a MacArthur "genius award" scholar who has been extremely thorough in challenging some of the fundamental assumptions of HIV research. His line of reasoning is that many related causes, such as multiple infections, malnutrition and drug use, combine synergistically to break down the immune system. A good start to appreciate Root-Bernstein's work is to read, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus (Free Press).