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1 25th March 15:24
paulking
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Default AIDS: IS ANYONE POSITIVE? (tuberculosis crisis leprosy panic isolation)


AIDS: IS ANYONE POSITIVE?

By Neville Hodgkinson

The European, 22 June 1998


On 28 June scientists at the 12th World AIDS Conference in Geneva
will hear arguments that a modern dogma, almost universally accepted, is
flawed in a fundamental and dangerous way. This is the idea, first
propounded at an international press conference in the United States in
April 1984 and adopted almost immediately worldwide, that the cause of
AIDS is a deadly virus, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

The theory seemed validated scientifically when Dr Robert Gallo, of
the US National Institutes of Health, published four long papers in a
single issue of the journal Science purporting to have identified the
new virus as the primary cause of AIDS and to have produced a diagnostic
test for it. The hypothesis became the basis of an industry that has
since received tens of billions of dollars for research and treatment in
Europe and North America, with more than $ 45bn contributed by
US taxpayers alone. Gallo's apparent discovery was hailed as adding
"another miracle to the long honour roll of American medicine and
science", although it was to herald a worldwide panic over ***, with
predictions that millions would die as the virus surreptitiously
spread.

Yet according to a group of scientists who are for the first time
being given an opportunity to put their ideas before the world AIDS
community, basic checks needed to establish the nature and even the
existence of such a virus were never completed. Evidence ac***ulated by
these critics indicates that genetic and biochemical signals that gave
rise to the HIV theory are better understood as arising from within the
body's immune cells, rather than as a consequence of invasion by a
deadly new microbe.

Various prolonged stresses on the body can cause these signals to
appear. They include infection by a range of known germs; exposure to
other people's bodily fluids such as blood and *****; and assaults on
the body by some medical and recreational drugs. Malnutrition also plays
a part, especially in parts of Asia and Africa, because it greatly
increases vulnerability to chronic infections such as tuberculosis and
leprosy that also cause a person to test "HIV" positive.

According to this view, antibodies detected in the blood with the
"HIV" test are non-specific: they do not mean a person is infected with
a particular virus that is slowly destroying their immune system. The
test should therefore be scrapped. The same is true of so-called "viral
counts", technology that picks up altered levels of certain genetic
sequences in the body. This genetic activity is connected with immune
system activation but has never been shown to relate to a specific
virus. The multi-billion-dollar effort to develop drugs or a vaccine
targeting "HIV" should be reappraised, as it is unlikely to get to the
root of the problem of AIDS and may have been adding to the suffering of
victims.

In short, "HIV" is a myth, along with many of the beliefs
accompanying the theory. The pictures of the virus that have appeared
around the world are artists' impressions and computer simulations,
based on indirect observations by molecular biologists, not isolation of
the virus itself.

The scientist at the centre of this amazing critique is Eleni
Eleopulos, of the department of medical physics, Royal Perth Hospital,
in Western Australia. An expert on cell oxidation, she recognised 14
years ago that the phenomena claimed to show the presence of a new virus
in AIDS might instead be arising from mechanisms of cell stress. She has
been researching the issue ever since.

Eleopulos is supported by Dr Valendar Turner, an emergency physician
who has also dedicated years of work to an ****ysis of AIDS science; Dr
David Causer, Eleopulos's head of department; and Dr John Papadimitriou,
professor of pathology at the University of Western Australia, an
internationally renowned expert on electron microscopy. All four are to
present their case, via a satellite link-up from Perth, in a two-hour
symposium at the world conference entitled "HIV Testing: Open Questions
Regarding Specificity".

Dr Etienne de Harven, former professor of pathology at the
University of Toronto, who pioneered a method of purifying viruses
during 25 years' work at the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York, is
also taking part in the symposium. Now based in France, he agrees with
Eleopulos's dramatic claim that HIV researchers have failed to
demonstrate the existence of "HIV" in AIDS patients. Recent attempts to
make good this omission, with electron microscope studies that should
have been done 15 years ago, produced "disastrous" results, he says,
suggesting "billions of research dollars gone up in smoke".

Other participants will include Dr Stefan Lanka, a German virologist
who has also argued against the HIV hypothesis; Huw Christie, editor of
Continuum, a UK-based AIDS magazine which has offered a 1,000 "missing
virus" award to the first person finding a scientific paper establishing
actual isolation of HIV; and science journalist Joan Shenton, author of
Positively False, a recent book about controversies surrounding HIV and
AIDS.

The session is hosted by the Geneva-based International Forum for
Accessible Science (IFAS), an umbrella group which has brought together
scientists, *** health activists and human rights workers seeking to
highlight radical challenges to current AIDS research, diagnosis and
treatment strategies.

Michael Baumgartner, the organisation's founder and secretary, who
used to serve as an AIDS chaplain at San Francisco General Hospital,
said that voices of dissent on the HIV hypothesis have been growing
stronger from within the scientific community. The dissidents had
presented more and more "conclusive" work. In addition, he said,
organisations of people living with the label of either "HIV" or AIDS
were irritated by the failure of the latest treatment approaches and
losing faith in the orthodox views. The decision to allow the claimed
flaws in HIV science to be examined at the conference was "historic".

The conference's scientific programme co-ordinators turned down a
request for a full plenary session. However, IFAS has been granted free
facilities for the two-hour symposium as a complement to the official
programme. The decision was made by the conference executive after
support from the Global Network of People Living With AIDS and the
International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS, two of the five
co-sponsors of the conference. Baumgartner says Dr Bernard Hirschel, the
conference chairman, also indicated that he sees the importance of
clarifying the issues raised by IFAS.

The implications of the challenge are enormous, in commercial as
well as human terms. The US Patent and Trademark Office has awarded more
than 1,500 patents based on the belief that HIV is both real and
dangerous. Companies producing tests that screen blood for evidence of
HIV and its purported effects on immune system cells make millions of
dollars yearly. New tests are now being marketed for estimating levels
of genetic activity attributed to HIV - so-called "viral load" assays.
The latest thinking is that an "HIV-positive" person should be tested in
this way four times a year.

Although AIDS cases are plummeting in many parts of the world, sales
growth is anticipated in this area of managing what has come to be known
as "HIV disease". Sales of diagnostic and monitoring kits totalled
$ 186m in 1995 in the US alone and were predicted to rise by 50
per cent within five years.

Still more lucrative is the rapidly growing market for combinations
of expensive drugs claimed to be the****utic in "HIV disease", such as
Glaxo Wellcome's Combivir, approved by the European Commission this
year. Sales are not just directed towards AIDS patients but to the much
larger groups who, according to the orthodox view, are in the grip of a
viral illness that is slowly wearing down their immune system years
before symptoms develop. By last year, ***ulative worldwide sales of
Glaxo Wellcome's AZT, the first "anti-HIV therapy", had exceeded
$ 2.5bn, despite severe concerns about its toxicity.

AIDS grew into a multi-billion-dollar business when it was claimed
in the mid-1980s that the virus "does not discriminate" and that it
would be only a matter of time before it swept through the world's
***ually active populations. The huge investment of money and energy
made it difficult for ideas about the nature of the illness to change.
Government and industry scientists, as well as public health officials,
AIDS advocacy groups, journal editors and specialist correspondents
became defensive.

The response to the first major critique of the HIV theory, by Dr
Peter Duesberg, professor of molecular biology at the University of
California at Berkeley, was bewilderment, followed by fury. Duesberg had
been voted Californian Scientist of the Year for his discoveries in the
field of retroviruses (of which HIV is supposed to be one). He argued in
1987 that HIV could not be doing the damage attributed to it, because it
was so difficult to find in the body, even in a person dying of AIDS. He
postulated that an explosion in the use of recreational drugs during the
1970s was probably the main cause of AIDS. He was first ignored and then
pilloried for persisting with his views. He lost a $ 350,000
"outstanding investigator" award and became an embarrassment to his
university, which, while unable to fire him, reduced him to chairing its
annual picnic committee.

The past 10 years have shown Duesberg to have been right on several
counts. He stated that HIV could not kill immune cells, that AIDS would
not become a hetero***ual epidemic and that the anti-viral drug AZT
would kill rather than cure. On all three issues, the evidence has gone
his way.

The Perth group's still more fundamental challenge to the HIV
theory, despite its almost incredible contradiction to received wisdom,
fits the facts even better than Duesberg's. It bypasses one of the
principal objections to Duesberg's position: the close relationship,
confirmed in numerous studies, between testing HIV-positive and risk of
illness. According to Eleopulos, the relationship is real, even though
HIV is not. When antibodies are present in the blood at levels that
cause a person to test positive, this may well indicate an abnormal
immune system state. However, the abnormalities are not caused by "HIV"
but by factors in patients' lives that overstimulate their immune cells.
These factors may be either toxic or infectious in nature. Sometimes the
stimuli are only temporary - even a dose of flu, or a course of flu
jabs, can cause a positive result. Longer-lasting assaults are the ones
that may trigger a process leading to AIDS.

In a huge review article published in Bio/Technology, a sister
journal to Nature, Eleopulos and her colleagues argued that none of the
HIV tests marketed was ever properly validated by showing that protein
reagents used to detect "HIV" antibodies really were connected to the
virus. The reason this validation was never performed, they say, is that
it proved impossible to isolate the virus from patients. The main means
of attempting to confirm the usefulness of the tests was to show that
antibodies which react with the test proteins were much more likely to
be found in AIDS patients and people at risk of AIDS than in healthy
people. However, all of those so-called "HIV" markers have been shown to
have other sources within the body, so even if HIV existed the
antibodies could not be said to signify its presence.

Huge confusion has been created by this situation. One review of the
medical literature found no fewer than 70 different disease conditions,
often involving an auto-immune response, do***ented as capable of
triggering a positive result with the test.

If the scientists who maintain that "HIV" is a myth are right, their
****ysis holds a crucial message of hope for people who have tested
positive. It means that, depending on how much damage has been caused, a
person's immune system may return to a normal, healthy state providing
the compromising factors are removed. This explains why millions of
"positive" people have stayed well for years, especially in poor
countries unable to afford the anti-viral drugs, contrary to predictions
based on the "deadly virus" view.

Even Africa, subjected by western scientists, AIDS agencies and the
media to years of stories of impending doom because of HIV, may be
beginning to emerge from the nightmare as it becomes widely understood
that the predictions were wrong. A recent Time cover story, "Africa
Rising", acknowledged that "after decades of famine and war, life is
finally looking up for many Africans." In 11 pages, there was not one
mention of HIV or AIDS. New African magazine, which circulates across
the continent, has called for an international inquiry to establish the
truth about AIDS. It says "alarmist and exaggerated" forecasts made by
western experts, supported by the World Health Organisation, have done
immeasurable harm to African confidence and the way Africans are seen
abroad.

Tragically, there is much evidence that the "HIV" diagnosis itself
has killed many. Apart from causing suicides and other deaths related to
the psychological stress involved, the diagnosis led doctors to
prescribe highly toxic drugs to try to defeat the virus. Some of the
most experienced physicians, such as Dr Donald Abrams, professor of
medicine and director of the AIDS programme at San Francisco General
Hospital, have begun to awaken to the disaster. In a lecture to medical
students of the University of California at San Francisco, reported in
their magazine, Synapse, Abrams said: "People who have chosen not to
take any antiretrovirals ... watched all of their friends go on the
antiviral bandwagon and die."

For the most part, the AIDS mainstream has maintained silence about
these and many other findings that undermine the "HIV" beliefs. When
pressed, the typical response has been to assert that only a handful of
"maverick" scientists are questioning the orthodoxy. Most professionals
have had little opportunity to know any different, because the main
journals refused access to their pages. Professor Gordon Stewart, a
British public health expert and former World Health Organisation
adviser, concluded as far back as 1985 that lifestyle and behaviour
factors were probably central to AIDS. His predictions about the pattern
of the epidemic proved more accurate than those based on the virus
theory. However, years of efforts to persuade Nature and the Royal
Society, the national academy of science for the UK, to publish his
****yses came to nothing.

In fact, thousands of scientists and AIDS experts around the world
have concluded that the "lethal virus" theory of AIDS is inadequate.
Several hundred of these, including two Nobel prize winners, have gone
public on the issue. Through an organisation called the Group for the
Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, set up six years ago,
they have been pressing the scientific community to re-examine the cause
or causes of AIDS. Support for this call is growing as a result of the
construction of two dissident websites. One of these
(http://www.virusmyth.com) contains more than 250 articles.

The webmaster is Robert Laarhoven, a Dutch AIDS ****yst who four
years ago was ejected from the 10th World AIDS Conference in Berlin
after he persisted in setting out literature concerning the dissident
case on an unused table. He was threatened with arrest and expulsion
from Germany if he returned. *** activists who set fire to some of the
literature were left unimpeded. Will it be different this time, in
Geneva? While the conference executive's decision to allow IFAS a
platform is welcome, much will depend on whether both lay and scientific
delegates are sufficiently wearied by the failings of the HIV theory to
contemplate an alternative.

Unease over the state of AIDS science is certainly growing. The last
World AIDS Conference, two years ago in Vancouver, Canada, was dominated
by jubilant claims that new pharmaceutical ****tails, including a class
of drugs called protease inhibitors, were dramatically beneficial in
some cases of AIDS. A "Lazarus effect" was reported, in which patients
were said to be rising from their sickbeds and returning to productive
life. There were hopes that these aggressive combination therapies,
costing around $ 20,000 a year (including the cost of the "viral
counts" that accompany them), could eliminate HIV from some patients.

Last year, a different story was emerging. HIV, it was now stated,
mutated so fast that it was evading the pharmaceutical onslaught. It
also had "hiding places" in the body. "Despite new AIDS drugs, many
still lose the battle", the New York Times reported in August. From
Germany, doctors stated that "... the favourable results from controlled
studies with antiretroviral drugs containing protease inhibitors cannot
simply be translated into everyday clinical practice". Even the most
passionate advocates of the new approaches have admitted there is "one
dark cloud on the horizon", as a report in The Lancet put it: human
behaviour. Up to a half of patients find it impossible to swallow all
their pills as prescribed, becoming "treatment failures". This is not
just because of the complicated regimen, involving taking around 20
tablets a day. Bizarre and dangerous side-effects are beginning to
emerge. "These reports tell us that protease inhibitors are not as
specific in their effects on the virus as we thought," said Dr John
Mellors, of the University of Pittsburgh, at a conference in February
this year. "They also hit the patient."

Recent claims in the New England Journal of Medicine that rapid
falls in AIDS cases and deaths are attributable to the use of the more
intensive drug treatments were not based on a scientific trial but on a
study wide open to bias. Besides, the falls began well before the new
treatments were introduced.

AIDS doctors earnestly want to find something to show for the
billions of dollars put into the HIV theory, but their desperation is
clouding their judgment, according to some scientists. Dr David Rasnick,
a biochemist and US AIDS researcher who worked with protease inhibitors
for 20 years, pointed out last year that none of the recently lauded
drugs in that class approved by the US Food and Drug Administration had
completed a full clinical trial. Instead, trials are stopped before
potential problems emerge. For example, a 1,200-person trial was halted
prematurely in February last year because there were 18 deaths in a
group receiving two anti-viral drugs, compared with only eight deaths in
a group receiving three, including a protease inhibitor. This result was
presented as meaning the protease inhibitor ****tail reduces deaths by
half but even the trial leader admitted that with 1,200 people being
studied, the difference had not reached statistical significance. Much
the same happened with AZT, the first alleged "gold standard" of AIDS
treatment: in a four-year Anglo-French study it was shown to be bringing
a 25 per cent rise in deaths in those receiving the drug compared with
those given a placebo.

Contrary to the impression given by the media, there are now
thousands of dissenters to the HIV theory. It took root in the medical
mind only 15 years ago but on its basis more than 100,000 papers have
been published. Much courage and humility will be needed by the medical
profession to look at it afresh. The longer the arguments over virus
isolation and the validity of the test remain unacknowledged, the
greater the potential crisis for medical science.

Will Geneva rise to this challenge? Or will it insist, as a former
editor of Nature has done of the HIV hypothesis, that "there is no other
and thus no choice"? *
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