Book review.


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


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, is not.

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 less.

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?

Review by: Bill Ervolino
Source: The Record, 19 May 1996