From the beginning I realized something was very wrong with the basic
concept of "AIDS", but it is one think to sense something, and
quite another to understand it analytically... One part of my mind saw
clearly that "AIDS" was a phoney construct. At the same time
another part of my mind ... blithely went about analyzing the incidence
of a non-existent entity ... Although people were undeniably sick, the
diagnoses themselves were arbitrary and irrational. -- John Lauritsen
Assume, just for the sake of argument, that journalist John Lauritsen
is correct in this thinking that "AIDS," as we know it, does
not exist. It's easy to appreciate the formidable task he faces in making
such an idea comprehensible, much less trying to win over the public mind.
Everyone "knows" AIDS exists. Most people are informed as well
about HIV, announced to be the cause of AIDS by the Secretary of Health
and Human Services in 1984 and believed to be most often spread through
sexual contact and in the sharing of contaminated needles by drug abusers.
Certainly the media have given the U.S. public little reason to think otherwise.
Thus the correctness of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis seems to be both the obvious
and unanimous opinion of scientists, doctors, and informed laypeople throughout
the world. Accordingly, Lauritsen could have begun his most recent book
by exposing the illusion of complete scientific conformity on this issue.
He is, after all, a member of the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal
of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, which counts among its members Kary Mullis,
the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, as well as Harvard's
Walter Gilbert, who garnered the same award in 1980. Other outstanding
virologists, epidemiologists, and medical doctors have signed on with the
group as well.
Yet there would be a problem with opening The AIDS War with such an
authoritative scientific perspective. Although it would have the advantage
of establishing credibility and demonstrating that an important controversy
indeed exists, it might tend to reinforce the notion that issues of medical
science are inaccessible technical matters best left to the elite scientific
community. Lauritsen wisely adopts a different strategy. The AIDS War presents
his previously published investigative reports in chronological order with
a few new chapters interspersed. This format allows the reader to follow
along as the author's knowledge and insights develop. Thus a potential
scientific labyrinth is avoided and a complex story is made comprehensible
for the general reader. The result, whatever one might ultimately come
to believe about its subject, is a totally fascinating book that turns
the AIDS world upside down.
In 1985 Lauritsen published his first major AIDS article in Philadelphia
Gay News, which showed he was already skeptical of the way the epidemic
was being framed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC was reporting
cases in such a way that risk factors were being misrepresented: "Published
studies on gay men with AIDS indicate many of them had something in common
besides sexual orientation. They were drug abusers -- not necessarily IV
drug abusers, but nonetheless regular and generally heavy users of many
different unhealthful chemical substances, including quaaludes, cocaine,
nitrite inhalants (poppers), ethyl chloride, amphetamines, tuinol, barbiturates,
uppers, downers, etc.
The significance of Lauritsen's insight that non-IV drugs are a common
denominator in gay men given an AIDS diagnosis becomes apparent if we consider
the official definition of AIDS. AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome. A syndrome is a collection of separate diseases, and
there are about 29, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These
are all "old" diseases, including tuberculosis, pneumonia (PCP),
candidiasis (yeast infection), among others. In other words, one "acquires"
a deficient or suppressed immune system, which in turn renders the body
unable to resist one or more of these old diseases. One way to acquire
a depressed immune system, Lauritsen suggests, is heavy drug use. He tracks
down evidence that "recreational" drugs do in fact cause such
damage. His early findings (reprinted in The AIDS War) were first published
in his book Death Rush: Poppers (Nitrite Inhalants) & AIDS (with Hank
Wilson [Pagan Press, 1986]). Lauritsen's "toxicological model"
of drugs that weaken or destroy the body's ability to resist infection
includes antibiotics and other prescription drugs and their side effects.
The AIDS War examines one particular medical drug, AZT, in critical detail.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of AZT for treatment
of AIDS in 1987. The basis of its approval was data obtained from drug
trials that were designed to be part of a double-blinded placebo-controlled
study. (Neither the doctors nor the patients were to know who received
AZT.) Using evidence obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and other
sources, Lauritsen discovers the study was "not double blinded by
any sense of the word" and was "not only appallingly sloppy but
manifestly fraudulent." For example:
"Patient #1009, who was already taking AZT [before the study began]
and who was suffering from typical AZT toxicities (severe headaches and
anemia), was illegally entered into a study for which he was ineligible.
Patient #1009 was then assigned to the placebo group, although he continued
to take AZT. He dropped out of the study after being in it less than a
month, and died on 20 August 1986, two months after leaving the study.
He was then counted as a death in the placebo group."
Lauritsen presents evidence that AZT is mutagenic, carcinogenic, and
cytotoxic, and causes severe anemia, muscle disease, headaches, nausea,
and damage to all organs of the body -- in essence, all the symptoms associated
with AIDS. He concludes that "death is the inevitable biochemical
consequence" of taking this drug. (That AZT was approved in record-breaking
time is one result of pharmaceutical companies and AIDS "activists"
In 1987 Lauritsen received scientific support for his skepticism of
the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. University of California virologist and member
of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Peter Duesberg published a paper
in Cancer Research in which he concluded that HIV was not sufficient to
cause AIDS -- "That virus is a pussy cat," he is quoted as saying
in the March 25, 1988 issue of Science. In an interview Lauritsen conducted
for the July 6, 1987, New York Native, Duesberg explained that viruses
such as HIV typically do not kill cells and, even if they could, HIV infects
so few cells that their death could have no serious effect on a person's
health. One might expect that the conclusions of a high-ranking scientist
such as Duesberg -- that HIV cannot cause AIDS (and variations on this
theme by a growing number of other scientists) -- should have made the
headlines by now. However, with few exceptions (notably the London Sunday
Times), they have not. Nevertheless, the breaking of the link between HIV
and AIDS eventually enabled Lauritsen to arrive at his remarkable conclusion
that AIDS does not exist.
The argument goes like this. A person with one of the 29 "old"
diseases, such as tuberculosis, who tests positive for HIV antibodies,
is given an AIDS diagnosis. If a person with the identical clinical symptoms
is HIV-negative the diagnosis would be tuberculosis. In other words, without
HIV to hold the syndrome together, AIDS collapses into its separate diseases.
Lauritsen made many attempts to warn mainstream AIDS organizations that
"AIDS" is a "phoney diagnosis followed by lethal treatment."
However, the drug companies had gotten there first. Organization leadership
had been co-opted in the manner in which drug companies seek to "educate"
doctors and promote their drugs. Thus the organization Act Up: "under
a radical cover ... has consistently served the interests of the pharmaceutical
industry. It has helped to put dangerous and worthless drugs ... on the
market, and to undermine the principles of rational drug regulation.
Other organizations, such as the Gay Men's Health Crisis in NYC and
the American Foundation for AIDS Research, which "is the AIDS establishment,"
have also received funds from the pharmaceutical industry.
Lauritsen blames drug companies, the leadership of mainstream AIDS organizations,
the media, scientists, and the medical profession for causing much unnecessary
death. Their exclusive emphasis on a virus has resulted in the prescribing
and taking of toxic medical drugs, while it has obscured the recreational
and street drug connection. These institutions and individuals have also
diverted attention away from the roles of poverty and malnutrition, particularly
in developing nations.
Lauritsen's main focus in on the U.S., but he gives some attention to
the third world: Africans are diagnosed as having "AIDS" when
they are sick with diseases which have been prevalent in Africa for centuries
-- diseases which result from poverty and unhealthful living conditions.
In fact (as reported in Clinical Aspects of Immunology, Fifth Edition),
malnutrition is the number one cause of immune suppression in the world
Lauritsen anticipated challenges to his radical call to rethink all
things AIDS. Transfusions, infant cases, AIDS in hemophiliacs, and the
case of Kimberly Bergalis (who was believed to have contracted AIDS from
her dentist), are included and all deeply considered.
The AIDS War, a thorough investigation of an ugly (although, unfortunately,
not unique) episode in the history of biomedical research, is not without
a positive side. It removes the death sentence commonly associated with
both AIDS and a positive HIV-antibody test. In addition, Lauritsen writes,
"recovery from the various AIDS-illnesses is possible, and has been
happening without publicity since the early days of the epidemic."
Although pointedly "not a self-help book," The AIDS War does
contain some common-sense advice concerning recovery and provides useful
leads in obtaining additional information for both preventing and healing
the illnesses commonly associated with AIDS.
Obviously, medical research has failed to produce a vaccine or cure
-- this after more than a decade of research costing billions of dollars.
The AIDS War is the perfect place to begin to understand why it can never
succeed. At the very least, the missing information and critical second
opinion provided here deserve to be part of the debate and discussion on
the epidemic. Certainly no one who reads The AIDS War will think about
the "dread disease" of our time in quite the same way ever again. *