BOOK REVIEW (THE RECORD)
Mandatory HIV testing for newborns may soon become a reality, via a
measure tentatively agreed upon by House and Senate negotiators on April
30. States that refuse to comply with the measure, some perceive mandatory
testing as an invasion of the mother's right to privacy , would risk losing
federal AIDS dollars under the Ryan White Act.
Newborns who do test positive for the virus will presumably be put on
AZT and/or other"anti-retroviral" therapies, as well as similarly
harsh medications used as prophylaxis against opportunistic infections.
Then what happens?
According to Peter H. Duesberg, a professor of molecular biology at
the University of California at Berkeley, many of the newborns put on AZT
will eventually develop AIDS, not from the virus, but from the drug.
In his chilling"Inventing the AIDS Virus," Duesberg maintains
thatHIV is"harmless," while AZT, as even its proponents admit,
For over a decade Duesberg has been insisting that scientists kicked
off a very expensive wild goose chase when they attributed AIDS to the
previously unidentified retrovirus now known as HIV. Recently, Duesberg's
small group of supporters has grown to include some Nobel Prize-winning
chemists, in-cluding Kary Mullis, who won the 1993 prize and has written
this book's foreword.
Significantly, Mullis is the inventor of the Polymerase Chain Reaction,
a method of DNA amplification tht has been used to determine a person's
HIV status when the more traditional testing proves inconclusive. After
studying the various re-search on HIV, Mullis says he became convinced
that none of it proved HIV as the cause of AIDS.
"The AIDS/HIV hypo-thesis is one hell of a mistake,"Mullis
concludes in his foreword."I say this rather strongly as a warning.
Duesberg has been saying it for a long time."
Duesberg clearly has an ax to grind with the so-called medical establishment
, after 10 years of being labeled a lunatic, who wouldn't?
and some scientists insist that there are holes in his theories. For
example, Duesberg rejects the notion of a "latent" virus that
could take years to manifest symptoms in the infected host. But his critics,
including Dr. June Osborn, one-time chairwoman of the National Commission
on AIDS, insist that recurrent herpes simplex has a latency period, as
does herpes zoster, which causes chicken pox and can then be reactivated,
later in the patient's life, as shingles.
Still, there's no getting around the fact that, after more than 10 years
of research, scientists have been able to prove only that HIV is present
in most of the people who die of infections triggered by immune suppression.
Most, not all.
A much more probable cause of AIDS, Duesberg passionately maintains,
is a relentless barrage on the immune system by assorted other sexually
transmitted diseases (with HIV going along for the ride), antibiotics used
to treat those diseases, long-term recreational drug use, and the harsh
drugs used to kill the HIV virus.
AZT is a form of chemo-therapy, and chemotherapy ravages the immune
system. Arthur Ashe, Duesberg alleges, died because he was taking huge
doses of AZT, while Magic Johnson, who took AZT briefly but then discontinued
using it, has resumed his basketball career.
Duesberg's logic extends to highly readable passages on such AIDS casualties
as Kimberly Bergalis, the Florida woman who clamied she contracted HIV
from her dentist, as well as IV drug users and affected hemophiliacs. No
heterosexual hemophiliacs, he says, have ever given full-blown AIDS to
a spouse, although in some cases they have passed on HIV. Conversely, a
recent study of HIV-negative homosexual men found that 16 percent had early
AIDS symptoms, including swollen lymph nodes and T-cell counts of 600 or
There is much more here, including pleas from the author that the government
spend at least some of its research dollars pursuing alternate AIDS theories,
and that it stop"reinventing" HIV every time it fails another
time-honored test that would prove it to be the cause of AIDS. The war
on AIDS is going nowhere, he says, because scientists are looking down
the wrong rabbit hole.
What if he's right?