Book review.


Peter H. Duesberg, 'Inventing the AIDS Virus' Regnery USA 1996, 720 pages, ISBN 0-89526-470-6.


For more than a decade, scientists have said HIV causes AIDS.

But Peter Duesberg, a pioneering researcher on retroviruses at the University of California-Berkeley, has risked his career on his controversial stand that HIV does not lead to AIDS.

The professor of molecular and cell biology is facing off against scientists from the world's most prestigious institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medicine's inability to gain ground against the disease proves the virus and AIDS are unrelated, Duesberg argues in his new and highly polemic book, ``Inventing the AIDS Virus.''

Government scientists, who linked HIV to AIDS in 1984, have misled the nation and medical profession when it comes to AIDS research, he says. Furthermore, Duesberg states, the effects of medicines prescribed to fight AIDS including AZT, a powerful chemotherapeutic drug that kills growing cells actually mirror the deadly disease.

Millions of dollars are funding research to find vaccines and therapies for a harmless virus, Duesberg says. Meanwhile, people with HIV are needlessly poisoning themselves with toxic medications.

He does not disagree that HIV is transmitted through sexual contact, intravenous drug use, transfusions and from mothers to babies. But AIDS, Duesberg says, is caused by long-term consumption of recreational drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, and AIDS treatments - not HIV.

``Tragic deaths, time and money wasted, hysterical public debate over a harmless virus these have been the fruits borne of a scientific establishment grown too large for genuine science,'' Duesberg writes in his 722-page tome.

Whether time proves him prophet or provocateur, Duesberg's book provides a glimpse at the politics of science in this country. His book includes 200 pages of appendices and footnotes.

Though the nation's mainstream research establishment denounces his conclusions, some high-profile scientists are open to his ideas, including a handful of Nobel laureates, though they are not directly involved in AIDS research.

U.S. government scientists, however, say a strong relationship exists. Eventually, nearly every person who has tested positive for HIV antibodies has suffered from AIDS-related diseases associated with weakened immune systems. Those without HIV do not.

The CDC did not recommend AZT as a therapy until 1985, a time when 15,948 Americans already were suffering from full-blown AIDS. Today, more than 15,000 children under the age of 13 have AIDS and it's unlikely that they have spent years shooting up heroin.

Review by: John Boudreau
Source: Contra Costa Times 22 April 1996