Book review.


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


To the Editor:

In her review of my "Inventing the AIDS Virus" (April 7), June E. Osborn writes: "This book is destructive of personal morale, prevention efforts and public understanding both of H.I.V./AIDS and of biomedical science in general. It has the potential to wreak serious harm at a crucial point in the AIDS epidemic." At the same time, Dr. Osborn faithfully defends the H.I.V.-AIDS orthodoxy with "enormous bodies of evidence... that firmly implicate H.I.V. in AIDS" but without being able to provide the one paper that proves that H.I.V. causes AIDS.

Yet 12 years and $35 billion after starting the war on AIDS in the name of the hypothesis that H.I.V. causes AIDS, America has no vaccine and no drug, has lost over 300,000 lives to AIDS and has yet to save the first AIDS patient. This is a sad testimony to the inability of the scientific and medical community to deal with AIDS properly.

In such a situation the scientific method calls for new, alternative hypotheses to compete with the unproductive H.I.V.-AIDS hypothesis. The scientific method functions very much like the free market economy: it provides the taxpayer and the patient with the most competitive and productive scientific theory.

"Inventing the AIDS Virus" has done exactly this. It provides a coherent and extensively documented alternative AIDS hypothesis. It is proposing that American and European AIDS is the medical consequence of the long-term consumption of recreational drugs and of antiviral drugs like AZT. This hypothesis is a synthesis and extension of the Centers for Disease Control's very own pre-1984 "life style" hypothesis of AIDS, and of many recent studies that document the toxicity of AZT. The drug-AIDS hypothesis is very testable and could prevent, even cure, AIDS at a fraction of the annual $7.5 billion Federal AIDS budget currently invested in the unproductive H.I.V. hypothesis. In the light of the drug hypothesis, H.I.V. is a harmless passenger virus, and AIDS is an entirely preventable, and in part curable, consequence of the drug epidemic.

One would expect Dr. Osborn to give an alternative to the failed H.I.V. hypothesis some serious consideration. Yet there is not a single complimentary sentence in her review. Wearing her H.I.V.-AIDS blinkers, she not only misunderstands but also misrepresents the drug-AIDS hypothesis.

For example, contrary to Dr. Osborn's assertion, "Inventing the AIDS Virus" does not assert that "gay men in whom AIDS was diagnosed in the early years... were not being truthful if they denied drug use." The book documents with dozens of references that if asked, gay men with AIDS all reported abundant recreational drug use.

Also, contrary to Dr. Osborn, I do not "dismiss" AIDS in other countries. Both Chapter 6 and Chapter 8 and an appended scientific paper deal extensively with AIDS in other countries and its causes, which are malnutrition, parasitic infection and poor sanitation.

In the face of our AIDS epidemic and in the name of science, I object to a partial and political review of my book. Isn't our common enemy AIDS rather than Peter Duesberg and other H.I.V. dissidents? Should AIDS be the winner of this debate because dissidents must be losers? Wouldn't it be prudent to divert a few million dollars from the annual $7.5 billion AIDS budget into just one alternative hypothesis?

Peter Duesberg
Berkeley, Calif.

Source: The New York Times, 19 May 1996