INTERVIEW DAVID RASNICK
Out of Africa
By Gene Mahoney
San Francisco Herald Oct. 2000
Recently, South African president Thabo Mbeki sought out AIDS
dissident David Rasnick to offer alternative views regarding his nation's
epidemic. Here's an all too brief interview I had with the scientist at his
Silicon Valley home.
GENE MAHONEY: So tell us about yourself.
DAVID RASNICK: I have a Ph.D. in chemistry from Georgia Tech and I've been in
the pharmaceutical industry since 1978. I've developed enzyme inhibitors for
tissue destroying diseases like arthritis, cancer, emphysema, parasitic
diseases, and I've studied AIDS for 19 years. I've written about it in
GM: Nineteen years ago did you think that HIV caused AIDS?
DR: Nineteen years ago HIV didn't even exist. It was 16 years ago, in 1984,
that HIV was unleashed upon the world, at a press conference by Robert Gallo.
Gallo used to be a member of the National Institutes of Health. He was one of
the world's leading retrovirologists and he'd been working on the
virus-cancer hypothesis since the '70s and had to find viruses that caused
cancers. He didn't find any. He tried to find something else useful or
significant about retroviruses and that led to his claim that a retrovirus
caused AIDS. Gallo's retrovirus, as we all know now, is called HIV -- Human
Immunodeficiency Virus. It is no such thing. It does not cause
If HIV did cause AIDS it would be one of the smartest viruses you could
imagine, because it knows whether you're male or female, gay or straight,
white or black, it even knows what zip code you live in and what country you
live in. For example, in the United States eight out of nine AIDS cases are
men. In San Francisco 99 out of 100 are men. Two-thirds of AIDS cases in the
USA and Europe are gay men. So that's a smart virus, and somehow that virus
knows to cause Kaposi's sarcoma in gay men and not in hemophiliacs, not in
pediatric AIDS cases, not in IV, blood transfusion or so forth. So it's a very
You can either accept that, as the HIV establishment does, or you can be a
little skeptical, as [UC Berkeley retrovirologist] Peter Duesberg, I, and the
so-called dissidents are, that maybe that's not quite the cause of AIDS.
Peter Duesberg and I are convinced that AIDS in the US and Europe is the
clinical manifestation of the drug epidemic in both places.
In Africa it's a completely different situation. It's so different that the
WHO [World Health Organization] and other organizations, in 1985, had to come
up with a different definition of AIDS in Africa because it didn't look
anything like AIDS in the US and Europe. The Bangui definition came from a
little town in Africa called Bangui.
In fact, I'm pretty sure right now there's no such thing as an AIDS epidemic
in Africa, from my previous two trips last May and this July. The reason I
say that in brief is that we've looked and looked and asked people, the
government ministers, we asked the director of the medical research council
in South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control in the US -- everybody we
could ask, "What are the numbers of AIDS cases in South Africa and how many
AIDS deaths?" No answer at all. Zero. To this date we do not have an answer
to that, and in fact, I don't think there is any such thing as AIDS going on
in South Africa. It's just the same old things that Africans have been
suffering and dying from for generations due to poverty, malnutrition, poor
sanitation, bad water, that sort of thing. We're calling it AIDS now, instead
of by the old-fashioned names that were more honest.
GM: I think most people don't realize there isn't a disease called AIDS per
se, like cancer or leukemia. AIDS is a collection of, what is it up to now...
DR: 30 some odd, depending where you want to go.
GM: But even that's very arbitrary, too.
DR: It's very arbitrary. There are at least four definitions of AIDS in the
United States the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] has come up with, and
there's no such thing as an AIDS disease. All of the so-called AIDS defining
diseases are known and old diseases.
For example, dementia, diarrhea, Kaposi's sarcoma, cervical cancer,
pneumonia, all these sorts of things, are only called AIDS if you have
antibodies to HIV, then they're called AIDS. In the absence of those
antibodies you have the old name of whatever the disease was. HIV itself has
no symptoms. If you get a typical infectious disease like chicken pox,
smallpox, or the flu or whatever, the symptoms go hand in hand with the
causative agent. You know exactly what it is.
The chicken pox virus doesn't cause dementia, it causes the chicken pox. The
flu virus doesn't cause cervical cancer, it causes the flu. HIV has no
symptoms of its own. Once a person becomes so-called antibody positive to
HIV, ten years down the road they can expect to get diarrhea, dementia, you
name it. So this whole idea as AIDS as a disease, there's no such thing.
As a matter of fact the name itself speaks to what it is. It's called
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It means an immune deficiency that is
acquired in some way. It is a syndrome. A syndrome is, think of alcoholism.
Alcoholism is a syndrome. We know the cause. It's drinking too much. But it
can have a spectrum of consequences that aren't necessarily going to show up
in each individual. In some people alcoholism affects their central nervous
system, some people it affects their liver, they get cirrhosis, some people
have gastrointestinal problems. There are all sorts of things that can be a
consequence of alcoholism. Generally syndromes are a consequence of some sort
of environmental influence; cigarette smoking, alcoholism, that sort of thing.
Infectious diseases are typically not syndromes. They're very well defined,
and you have very precise symptoms that are attributed to infectious
diseases. With syndromes that's not true. Anytime you have a syndrome it's
almost certainly not due to an infectious agent. So that's what AIDS is. It's
not a disease, and HIV is an Orwellian deception. It's not an immune
deficiency virus. It's just one of thousands of retroviruses.
First of all, you can't even find it in a human being. No one has even
obtained infectious HIV from a human being. That's why the tests look for
antibodies to HIV. HIV itself, at least the proteins of it, are produced in
laboratories. For example, they mix a person's blood with those proteins and
see if there's a binding reaction of some sort. If there is, depending on its
strength or whatever, you're claimed to be HIV-positive.
Normally an antibody reaction -- except for AIDS, AIDS is the only exception
-- if you have antibodies to the so-called putative cause of the disease,
whatever it is, then you're considered immune, and you're safe. That's the
whole principle of vaccination. That's why you have a little scar on your
shoulder from smallpox vaccine. People from around the world are happy to be
around you. Because they know that not only are you not likely to get
smallpox because you're vaccinated from it, you're also not able to transmit
it to other people because you're immune from it. Same is true with the
measles, the mumps, and the chicken pox... once you've ever had it you're
immune to it. And if you were to check for antibodies to that in a person you
would find them, because you are immune to it and that's a good thing.
HIV is the only exception. If you have antibodies to HIV that is a death
sentence. Ten years from now, as I said before, you're going to come down
with AIDS defining diseases and die. Which isn't true. The vast majority of
HIV-positive people, well over 90% worldwide, are perfectly healthy. There's
only a total of, the WHO reports, a little over 2 million AIDS deaths, total
worldwide And yet they tell us there are over 30 some odd million
HIV-positive people are still alive and living their lives happily on this
GM: There's been a big push about giving the people of Africa AIDS drugs. Is
there still as much of a push about AIDS drugs in the US as there used to be?
DR: Oh yeah. AIDS peaked in the US in 1992, according to the CDC's own
publications. We've had 700 some odd thousand AIDS cases in the US total.
That's living and dead.
GM: What about HIV-positives who are--
DR: No, I'm not talking about HIV-positives. I'm talking about AIDS cases as
documented the past 19 years.
GM: Having those diseases.
DR: Well as of 1993 you don't even have to have a disease to be a full-blown
AIDS case. You have two laboratory tests fewer than 200 CD4 cells per
microliter of blood, and have antibodies to HIV, and have no other symptoms.
No indication of illness other than laboratory tests and you're a full-blown
AIDS case. Well over 60% of all new AIDS cases in the USA have no symptoms of
the illness, but yet they're full-blown AIDS cases by the 1993 definition.
And that's been true for over 50% of the AIDS cases in the past 4 or 5 years,
having no symptoms of the disease.
So based on whatever criteria the CDC chooses, even that very bizarre '93
definition of including healthy people as full-blown AIDS cases just on the
basis of two laboratory tests, even including these tens of thousands of
healthy people, there is still a grand total of one million Americans in 19
years total who are listed as AIDS cases. A little over 700,000 in fact.
Curiously, even in Africa the total number of AIDS cases is almost the same
as there are in the whole country of the United States, even though they have
two-and-a-half to three times our population. I'm talking about AIDS cases,
GM: When you say the same in Africa are you talking on a per-capita basis or
DR: No, I'm talking about actual total numbers. The total number of AIDS
cases that the WHO has published is under one million for the entire
continent of Africa in 19 years.
GM: There are actually more sick people in the United States than the
continent of Africa?
DR: There was for a while. About 2 years ago there were more documented AIDS
cases in the US than the whole continent of Africa. Yet they have
two-and-a-half to three times our population.
GM: They can't possibly test every one of those people as being HIV-positive
in Africa. Do they?
GM: Do they just assume that they have AIDS?
DR: Yes. They basically assume they have AIDS. But using the Bangui
definition, the 1985 definition of AIDS in Africa, it doesn't even require
HIV as part of the definition, because they can't afford to do the test
anyway, and the test is totally unusable in Africa because of the false
positives with hepatitis B, malaria, tuberculosis, which are endemic of
They use clinical symptoms. There are four basic clinical symptoms in the
Bangui definition; there's 10% weight loss, there's persistent fever and
cough, and diarrhea. That's it.
Think about it. I was in the Peace Corps in Papa, New Guinea and I had all of
those. That makes me a long term survivor based on that definition of AIDS.
Think of it, in a place like Africa, where you have random poverty,
malnutrition, poor sanitation, bad water, and parasitic diseases -- guess
what the symptoms are. And tuberculosis, too. Tuberculosis is worldwide.
Where you have poverty you have tuberculosis, including the United States and
Europe. It's a disease of poverty, brought on by malnutrition.
The world's leading cause of immune depression is malnutrition, which is
typically due to poverty. Well-fed people who are exposed to TB do not get
the disease TB. Anytime you have endemic TB in a society it's a clear
indication of the level of poverty in a society. One of the symptoms of TB is
a persistent cough. In 1993 they actually added TB to the 1985 Bangui
definition of AIDS. Isn't that interesting? Regular TB which has been endemic
there for how long is now called AIDS in Africa.
GM: The mainstream media is always reporting that dissidents like you and
Duesberg have been discredited, but yet I never see them show any evidence of
that, and they never interview you, just the HIV establishment doctors. I saw
a recent piece on "60 Minutes" and it just showed how these doctors were
infuriated with you guys.
DR: I'm sure they are infuriated because people call us dangerous, and I
agree with them completely. Peter Duesberg, I, and the other dissidents... we
are very dangerous people. The question is; dangerous to whom?
We're certainly not dangerous to HIV-positive people. We're not dangerous to
hemophiliacs. We're not dangerous to Africans. But we are lethally dangerous
to the HIV establishment. To the people who are on that $8 billion taxpayer
gravy train, in the USA every year that goes to AIDS. The $1.8 billion that
goes to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases only for
HIV research. We're very dangerous to those folks.
We're dangerous to the careers and reputations of those 100,000 scientists
and physicians who stake their careers and reputations on this bogus
contagious HIV hypothesis. We are dangerous to those journalists,
politicians, and celebrities who have also attached their names and
reputations to this bogus HIV hypothesis.
So indeed we are very, very dangerous people and I admit that. But we haven't
killed anybody. As a matter of fact, as a consequence of our work, there are
certainly thousands of people who are alive today that would not be alive had
they been left alone with the insanity of the HIV hypothesis to drag them
down in that spiral of taking the drugs that eventually cause the AIDS
diseases. You know, I heard this within this year, that we had been
discredited. That was news to me. If we have been discredited, that's all
fine and good, all I ask is where and by whom and when were we discredited so
I could go back and see how we were discredited because it's all news to me.
GM: Where do you see the whole scenario going? Do you think the media still
will be reporting that new AIDS drugs are on the way, etc.?
DR: No, it's over with. It's crumbling from within, just like the former
Soviet Union. The foundations are so poor. AIDS attracts probably the poorest
quality scientists and physicians you could imagine. I mean, David Ho is
below mediocre in his capability. I've met many of these people in the last
two or three years and there's one or two I've met that are really top notch
scientists. It's a real pity that they have associated themselves with this
stinking mess of HIV. The majority of them I've met are mediocre and below.
Usually the higher up they are on the ladder the poorer quality they are. Oh,
they're rich, there's no doubt about that. Like Peter [Duesberg] said, most
of his colleagues at Berkeley are now multimillionaires.
GM: Ten years it'll be gone?
DR: Oh, ten years it'll be long gone. It's virtually disappeared in the US.
There's almost no interest in it, even in San Francisco.
GM: What about the recent news stories about how the epidemic has been
exploding in San Francisco now?
DR: That's a sign of how fast it's disappearing. The fact that the AIDS-HIV
establishment in San Francisco, and other places, have to revive it. It's
going away, so they go to these extremes and shoot from the hip and make
these bogus statements that were in the newspapers recently about this burst
of HIV infections and all that crap. They're lies. AIDS has always been
fueled by lies, but now it's just getting more blatant.
AIDS is disappearing in the US, that's why Africa is now in the newspapers
and it'll be India probably later and maybe China eventually. You know what
Texaco did when Texas started drying up. No more oil. They moved east to
Saudi Arabia and places like that. The AIDS establishment doesn't want the
gravy train to disappear. They're not the brightest people in the world but
they're not crazy.
This goes to the heart of our democracy. Our institutions are corrupt. They
need to be restructured. The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for
Disease Control are both military organizations. They have uniforms and
ranks. A lot of people don't know that. They come under the executive branch
of government. The president is their ultimate boss. Clinton, this summer,
made AIDS a national security issue, which automatically brings in the FBI,
the CIA, the NSA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That's the problem when you
have a national security issue. You can abrogate civil rights. We haven't
felt the ramifications of that yet, but I'm sure we will.
GM: Ironically, I remember many people, especially liberals like myself back
then, being upset that Reagan ignored AIDS and didn't get the government
DR: He did ignore it, but he screwed up. When he said something about it was
in 1984 at that famous Gallo press conference which got the snowball rolling.
It was an election year in 1984. The first four years of AIDS were the first
four years of his administration. He never said a word about AIDS before
1984. Not one. Then there was a gay activist who was paraded around the White
House in the late winter.
I am convinced that the April press conference was a preemptive strike that
was meant to erase AIDS as a campaign issue. A lot of people say it brought
it to the fore. I'm convinced it had the opposite intent, to erase it from
any importance as a campaign issue. The April press conference was perfect in
diffusing AIDS as a potential campaign issue because it said we figured it
out and it was another triumph for American science and medicine because an
American discovered what AIDS is and in two years we'll have a vaccine for
it, which would have made it 1986, two years into Reagan's second term.
GM: So if you think of it the Reagan administration came up with --
DR: It did! It invented AIDS! But without thinking about it! It meant to
diffuse it and take it off everyone's radar and say we solved it, it's over.
As a consequence of that he set off this avalanche we're now talking about,
HIV-AIDS, without meaning to! He didn't mean to do it! It was a consequence
of a political initiative by the head of state.
GM: Quickly sum up the AIDS drug epidemic correlation.
DR: We went from fewer than 10,000 chronic drug users in 1970 (heroin,
cocaine, amphetamines, etc.) to 20 to 25 million in 1989. Two-thirds of them
were gay men. These guys were using drugs at astronomical levels, the ones
who got AIDS, far higher than the heterosexuals who were also using all these
crazy drugs. These guys, and "I.V. drug users," which is a euphemism for
heterosexual drug users, account for 95% of all AIDS cases.