BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT (ASSOCIATE PRESS)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Peter Duesberg was in an elite group of scientists
who competed for Nobel Prizes and cornered most major grants-until he announced
his belief that the human immunodeficiency virus does not cause AIDS.
The theory, published in a science journal in 1987, flung Duesberg's
career into a tailspin, turning the tenured University of California-Berkeley
professor into a pariah.
It was a rapid fall for a member of the National Academy of Sciences,
winner of a 1985 Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes
of Health and one of the world's leading authorities on retroviruses, a
family that includes the AIDS virus.
Now, the 58-year-old Duesberg says, he has a chance at redemption.
But others say that chance could lead to further devastation.
Duesberg's book, "Inventing the AIDS Virus," co-written by
a former student, Bryan J. Ellison, will be shipped to stores nationwide
in February by Regnery Publishing Inc.
Its conclusion, which has been thoroughly and repeatedly rejected by
mainstream AIDS researchers, is that the identification of HIV as the AIDS
culprit was hastily reached and never properly challenged, ignoring the
possibility that AIDS usually results from drug abuse.
Phyllis Kanki, a virologist at the Harvard AIDS Institute, said the
attention Duesberg's theory receives "could impede the progress of
education and intervention programs."
"It's a little depressing for those of us working in AIDS research
to think we are going back to square one and arguing what seems like a
ridiculous argument about the cause of AIDS," she said.
The German-born Duesberg says his book is his "best chance for
a public hearing."
The book "is my best hope now of getting a lot of people to reconsider,
rethink and possibly say: `We should give Duesberg a chance,'" he
said in a telephone interview.
"Inventing the AIDS Virus" explores "the growing-but
carefully hidden- dissension within the scientific community" over
the cause of AIDS, according to an advertisement by the publisher.
The book is "not a helpful thing, that's for sure," said Peter
Drotman, assistant director for public health for the federal Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
"If it is widely read and believed and people act on the messages
he provides, that would be injurious to the health of others," he
Duesberg wouldn't mind the criticism, "but they also essentially
take your livelihood away, no grants, no supports, no students. That is
indeed scientific misconduct."
He said he fought with publishers and co-writer Ellison for three years
to get the book published.
A federal court jury in New York City decided Wednesday that Ellison
owes Duesberg and Regnery $477,000 for selling an unedited version of the
book for the past year, mostly through the mail.
Ellison, who thought publishers were trying to dilute the book's message,
sold more that 20,000 copies under the title "Why We Will Never Win
the War on AIDS."
The late tennis star Arthur Ashe, who heard of Duesberg's claims, once
said in a Washington Post column that "the confusion for AIDS patients
like me is that there is a growing school of thought that HIV may not be
the sole cause of AIDS and that standard treatments such as AZT actually
make matters worse. That there may very well be unknown cofactors but that
the medical establishment is too rigid to change the direction of basic
research and or clinical trials."
Which is exactly Duesberg's point.
"Science is not meant to be conformism and majority rule,"
"Innovation does not come from a majority in science. It always
comes from someone considered an outsider."