HIV VOODOO FROM BURROUGHS-WELLCOME
By John Lauritsen
New York Native 7 Jan. 1991 [revised 16 Jan. 1991]
Those who have eyes to see are witnessing genocide-the genocide of gay men.
Millions of dollars are now being spent on an international advertising campaign,
"Living With HIV", in which gay men and other members of "risk groups" are
Get tested for antibodies to HIV [the alleged "AIDS virus"] -- if you "test positive"
you need "medical intervention" which could "put time on your side". The "medical
intervention" is AZT (also known as Retrovir and zidovudine), and the campaign is
paid for, directly and indirectly, by Burroughs-Wellcome, the manufacturer of
The campaign consists of a phoney diagnosis followed by a lethal treatment.
Already tens of thousands of objectively healthy gay men have been scared and
bullied and bamboozled into taking AZT, allegedly in order to "slow the progression
to AIDS". Optimism regarding their prognosis would be foolish. Except for the
lucky few who stop "treatment" in time, they will die. Death is the expected
biochemical consequence of taking AZT, for the fundamental action of the drug is
to terminate DNA synthesis, the very life process itself. As Joseph Sonnabend has
stated, "AZT is incompatible with life". Without a single benefit demonstrated by
honest and competent research, AZT can do nothing but kill.(1)
It is odd, the power of words to cloud reality or discredit a line of reasoning. A
British journalist once told me that no one would ever believe what I wrote if I
persisted in using words like "genocide". My response is that, while I want my
arguments to be convincing, I write what I consider to be true, not necessarily what
people will find believable. Genocide has occurred at other times and in other
places, and it is happening here and now, whether or not anyone wishes to believe
Craig Schoonmaker, the founder of Homosexuals Intransigent, has suggested the
word "autogenocide", to emphasize the role of low self-esteem and self-hatred in
motivating gay men to acquiesce in their own destruction. Casper Schmidt, a New
York City psychiatrist, has proposed "pharmacogenocide"-genocide through drugs.
The late Robert S. Mendelsohn put forward the word "iatrogenocide" in his best
seller, Confessions of a Medical Heretic: A new word was recently coined by Dr.
Quentin Young to describe one activity of Modern Medicine: iatrogenocide.
Iatrogenocide (iatros in the greek for doctors) is the systematic destruction of a
large group of people by doctors.(2)
This new form of genocide, directed against gay men, rests on two pillars:
Homophobia and Profit. The ancient taboo from the Holiness Code of Leviticus,
which prescribed the death penalty for males who had sex with each other, is now
being carried out, profitably, by the pharmaceutical industry: "If a man lie with
mankind as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they
shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." (Leviticus 20:13)
Jewish priests 2500 years ago ordained death by stoning for the "abomination" of
sex between males. Modern priests, the doctors, prescribe AZT, and they do so
with the extraordinarily hypocritical dogma that by giving a life-terminating drug
they are really "extending life". Considering the agonizing side effects of AZT
"treatment", it might be argued that death by stoning were preferable.
Deadly Diagnosis + Lethal Treatment = Genocide
The weaknesses of the HIV-AIDS hypothesis have been discussed elsewhere.(3)
Behind the scenes a growing number of important scientists are now convinced that
HIV is not the cause of "AIDS". The two "discoverers" of HIV, Luc Montagnier of
the Pasteur Institute and Robert Gallo on the National Cancer Institute, have both
reneged on promises to defend the HIV-AIDS hypothesis against the criticisms of
Peter Duesberg, and have therefore lost the debate by default.
What does it mean to be diagnosed as "HIV positive"? Objectively it means
nothing, other than having antibodies to a harmless passenger virus. In the absence
of "medical treatment" or other specific health risks, there is no reason why
someone who is "HIV positive" should not live to a ripe old age.
The "HIV positive" diagnosis itself, however, can be deadly. It has led to suicides,
has destroyed marriages and careers, and is used to justify AZT treatment. An East
Berlin writer recently summed it up with the phrase, "Nicht das Virus, sondern die
Diagnose totet". ("The virus doesn't kill, the diagnosis does.")(4)
The toxicities of AZT have also been described elsewhere.(5) The short-term
(acute) toxicities of AZT are serious, and many patients die of them. These
toxicities include severe anemia, muscle disease, and damage to the kidneys, liver,
and nerves. However, it is the long-term (chronic) toxicities that are of most
concern when AZT is being prescribed for healthy people to take for the rest of
their lives. The cumulative, long-term effects of AZT are unknown, since no one
has lived for more than three years on AZT treatment. However, the evidence we
have-including biochemical analyses, test tube studies, rodent studies, and
correlations between cancer of the lymph system and AZT therapy-strongly
indicates that AZT will cause cancer in the long run.
So then, perfectly healthy members of a group, which is hated for theological
reasons, are persuaded through lies to take a drug that will kill them. If there's a
better word than "genocide" to describe this, I'd like to know what it is.
The Marketing of Genocide
Burroughs-Wellcome's full-page "Living With HIV" advertisements have appeared
in The New York Times and in lesser publications all over the world. In a typical ad,
a man is shown in silhouette by a grand piano, his head bowed in dejection, and
above his head the statement, "I learned I was HIV positive 5 years ago. I felt
angry, deserted, and victimized." At the bottom of the ad is an insert photograph of
the same man, now smiling and confident: "Today I'm back in control." The theme
of "control" is echoed in the ad slogan, "The sooner you take control the better." In
all of the "Living With HIV" ads, the body copy is the same: Every day, more and
more people are learning to live with HIV. People are finding ways to stay
healthier, strengthen their immune systems, develop positive attitudes. They've
found that proper diet, moderate exercise, even stress management can help. And
now, early medical intervention could put time on your side.
Today, HIV positive doesn't mean you have to give up. So, the sooner you take
control, the better.
For more information on living with HIV, we urge you to call the number below
...anonymously, if you wish.
Such phrases as "stay healthier" and "put time on your side" are insidious, as they
suggest that someone with HIV antibodies is already sick and doomed. The
references to diet, exercise, and so on are merely window dressing. Any HIV
positive who calls the number will find out soon enough that "taking control" means
"early medical intervention" means AZT.
In their nauseating hypocrisy, the Burroughs-Wellcome ads are reminiscent of a
series of ads which in 1983 were run in gay publications for Great Lakes Products,
the world's largest manufacturer of poppers (nitrite inhalants). Entitled "Blueprint
for Health", the Great Lakes ads gave advice to gay men on how to stay healthy
through exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, and so on. And this "message of good
health and wellness" was sponsored by the manufacturer of poppers, a drug which,
among other things, damages chromosomes; causes anemia, immune suppression,
and cardio-vascular collapse; and forms carcinogenic compounds in the body.(6)
Concomitant with the Burroughs-Wellcome ads, The New York City Department
of Health put up posters with the theme, "Living Longer, Staying Strong",
conveying essentially the same message, that "people with HIV" are sick and
doomed, but might "stay healthy longer" with the help of "early health care and
Genocide doesn't take holidays. On Christmas day I was listening to WINS radio,
and heard a "Message on HIV" from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It
was a virtual clone of the "Living with HIV" series. I called the number, and the
woman who answered gave me the now-familiar pitch about the importance of
getting tested, early medical intervention, and the rest of it.
The Gay Press Promotes Autogenocide
Gay publications all over the world, from local bar rags to those with international
circulations, are now carrying the "Living with HIV" ads. The New York Native and
the west coast magazine Outlook are the only exceptions I know of. According to
an article by Chris Bull in The Advocate, Burroughs-Wellcome marketing
representative Joe DiSabato found "little opposition to the ads from the gay press."
DiSabato richly deserves the 1990 gay Pollyanna prize for his statement, "In a way
Burroughs Wellcome is giving money back to the community through the
campaign. Economically, this will be great for the gay press."
The German magazine Magnus received 20,000 DM to run a Burroughs-Wellcome
ad, and a prominent gay activist with "AIDS" was recruited to assist in the
campaign. A Burroughs-Wellcome ad appeared in the latest issue of Babilonia,
In Houston, the Body Positive group received $85,000 plus donations of computers
and other equipment from Burroughs-Wellcome. In return, Body Positive ran
under its own name a series of television, radio, billboard, and press advertisements
with the theme, "We can't get results until you do." For those who would test
positive, the ads offered the bleak hope, "There's a chance for a longer and
healthier life with early medical intervention." Houston's mayor, Kathy Whitmire,
proclaimed September the "Get Tested Now" month, stating that, "prompt medical
and psychological intervention can slow down the progress of the [HIV] disease
and ameliorate some of its effects."
Some of the ads in the gay press were sponsored by branches of the Public Health
Service, paid for with our tax money. One such ad, which ran in Au Courant
(Philadelphia), contained the following copy: Today, people with HIV are doing
something most of us didn't think possible. Living longer. Today, a person who is
infected with HIV and receives prompt treatment can live longer. If you are at risk
[read: if you are gay], now's the time to seek counseling and testing. If you are
infected with HIV, work with a doctor to understand medical options that may
prolong your life.
The psychology of genocide
In formulating hypotheses on what might be the real causes of "AIDS",
multifactorialists who reject the HIV-AIDS hypothesis have concentrated on such
probable etiological factors as "recreational" drug use, known and
yet-to-be-identified infectious agents, and excessive medical treatment with
antibiotics and other drugs. We have, regrettably, tended to slight psychological
factors. This is unfortunate, as the concept of psychosomatic illness is well
established. There can be no doubt that extreme and chronic fear, depression,
stress, and grief are capable of causing illness and death.
In 1983 the Journal of Psychohistory published a paper by Casper Schmidt, which
was perhaps the first to challenge the "AIDS virus" hypothesis.(7) Entitled "The
Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS", this brilliantly original essay advances the thesis
that epidemic AIDS has a psychosocial origin-that AIDS is psychologically
contagious, being spread through suggestion rather than through microbes. In
Schmidt's view, we are witnessing a mass sacrificial ritual, with sadistic persecutors
on one side and willing (masochistic) sacrificial victims on the other. The
extraordinary irrationality that characterizes the AIDS epidemic can be explained
through the concept of group fantasy-people are collectively in a trance.
Schmidt is somewhat more tentative in trying to explain why gay men and other
members of "risk groups" are getting sick in ways that qualify for a diagnosis of
"AIDS". He proposes that chronic and inescapable fear can elicit a biochemical
reaction in the body, which in time causes "psychogenically-reduced cell-mediated
immunity". He maintains that this hypothesis has fulfilled the animal model for
"AIDS", inasmuch as laboratory animals subjected to inescapable threats have
developed immune deficiency. While I withhold judgment on this aspect of
Schmidt's thesis, I wholeheartedly agree that a sacrificial ritual is taking place.
Especially noteworthy, in my opinion, is the role of the facilitators-those gay men
(and lesbians) who are leading the victims to the sacrificial altar, without necessarily
allowing themselves to be sacrificed.
In this second wave of sacrifices, in which perfectly healthy people are being
targeted for genocide, a crucial role is played by psychological suggestion. Highly
sophisticated psychological techniques are being used to make gay men perceive
themselves as sick, and become sick, in order to qualify as consumers of AZT. The
"Living With HIV" campaign is, quite literally, a form of voodoo.
Michael Ellner, the president of the Health Education AIDS Liaison (HEAL),
recently posed the question of whether un-recognized hypnosis might not be a risk
factor in the development of "AIDS". A certified master hypnotherapist himself,
Ellner believes that classic elements of hypnosis are present in the "Living With
HIV" campaign, in innumerable pronouncements from AIDS groups and public
health agencies, and in a recent video from Burroughs-Wellcome (about which
more below). Ellner cited the elements of hypnotism as being, in no particular
order: perceived authority, fixation, suggestion, repetition, confusion, relaxation,
imagination, and post-hypnotic suggestion.
In a recent paper by Michael Ellner and Andrew Cort, "Programmed to Die:
Cultural Hypnosis and AIDS", the following points are made: Bone pointing, or
voodoo death, is a well-documented hypnotic phenomenon that clearly
demonstrates the awesome power of belief. There are people in Africa, Haiti and
Australia with the belief that the shaman (or witch doctor) has power over life and
death. For them, being the target of a bone pointed by such an authority can be
fatal. The hex is harmless to a non-believer; but to a believer it is deadly. After
having a bone pointed at them, healthy people go home and obediently die.(8)
A Burroughs-Wellcome video: Brainwashing the doctors
A few months ago, doctors who treat AIDS patients received a video cassette from
Burroughs-Wellcome, "The Psychology of Treating Patients With HIV Disease".
The basic premises of the video are the same as those of the "Living With HIV"
campaign, that "HIV infection" and "AIDS" are more or less equivalent, and that
early medical intervention (with AZT/Retrovir) is called for. Beyond this, doctors
are told to "ally with the treatment", by knocking down any hesitation or objections
their "HIV-infected" patients might have to going and staying on AZT therapy.
The video is narrated by Leon McKusick, Ph.D., a gay psychologist in San
Francisco. In the beginning his voice is heard saying: HIV disease is coming to be
seen as a chronic infection. And for many individuals this is the first intimate
realization of death and disease, particularly among those who are relatively young.
After McKusick introduces himself, he quickly gets to the point: The decisions
surrounding the initiation of Retrovir therapy force you, the physician, to evaluate
the patient's support network.... This video will share with you the psychological
reactions we've seen from patients who are diagnosed positive for the HIV
antibodies, and then alert you to the emotions that follow as they encounter the
progression of the disease and then are motivated towards treatment with Retrovir.
McKusick describes "HIV-related depression", emphasizing that the symptoms
mimic those of HIV infection itself, as well as "some of the early side effects of
AZT". In other words, if a patient on AZT should experience sleep disturbance,
eating problems, fatigue, or weight loss, these might be merely short-term
"HIV-related depression", rather than side effects of AZT.
For physicians to "assist individuals going through emotional depression reacting to
HIV or going on treatment", McKusick offers the following guidelines: enlightened
reassurance, cognitive reframing, social support, reinforce structure, plan of action.
In commenting on the video, Michael Ellner has expressed the opinion that
"cognitive reframing" means hypnotizing or brainwashing the patient.
The video features a panel discussion, with two doctors and a number of people
with AIDS (PWAs). Like McKusick, the other two authority figures are gay and
are identified with title: Marcus Conant, M. D., and Ron Grossman, M. D.,
whereas the PWAs are identified simply as "Bob", "Steve", "Tom", and "Bill". Drs.
McKusick, Conant and Grossman are understanding facilitators. Bob, Steve, Tom,
and Bill are willing victims.
Grossman argues that "AIDS" ought to renamed as "HIV spectrum". His words are
regarded by his colleagues as profound and original.
McKusick says, "Sometimes it's best to combat feelings of stigmatization with a
sense of humor." He smiles. The camera shifts to Conant, who tries to smile-but
his face is heavy and his eyes are dead tired. And then Bob tells an anecdote. It
seems he was in a play writing workshop when the timer of his AZT pill box went
off: Twenty pairs of eyes zeroed in on me. The only thing I could do, I took out
the pill box and turned it off-and they were still looking-so obviously I had to
respond to it-so I made a joke out of it. I said, "It's a phenomenon of the latter part
of the 20th century in the United States. Every four hours, gay men start to beep."
Bob stops speaking. It becomes apparent that the point of his joke has been made,
and that people are expected to laugh. They begin laughing. The camera goes from
one person to another to show them laughing. They applaud Bob's performance.
Clearly Bob is intended to be a role model. He states, "As soon as I started taking
action, I started feeling better.... Action is the key to salvation."
The prickly topic of AZT's side effects is raised. McKusick asserts that the
physicians role ought to be "helping the patient realize that their fears were
unfounded." Robert makes a joke about "horror stories" of side effects. Everyone
McKusick then declares that anxiety symptoms are very much like both HIV
symptoms and early symptoms of AZT side effects. He artfully sows confusion by
Sometimes a person could benefit medically from the drug, but could reject the
drug for psychological reasons. Some patients, who have just begun AZT, have
complained about side effects which, once they've talked about it with their
counsellors, were determined to be more related to their anxiety about being on the
drug, than to the drug itself.... Sometimes a person could benefit medically from
the treatment, but rejects the drug for psychological reasons, after being on it for
just a brief period. Therefore, it's important to recognize that some of your patients'
early reactions may be psychological.
Bob makes his contribution: "I have to say-Thank God! -- that I have had no side
effects whatsoever." Bob clearly is not well. His skin is stretched taut over a
death's head, and his facial expressiveness is limited to rolling his eyes. He
mentions a few symptoms, which he attributes to HIV, and says, "I can handle
that". He laughs bravely.
McKusick commends Bob on the way he "handles attribution". It's very
important", says McKusick, "to ally with the drug against the disease." The single
most stomach-turning episode in the video is provided by the New York physician,
Ron Grossman, who smiles as he delivers the following little speech:
That pill should be an absolute symbol of life, and not a symbol of "Oh, I've got
this...." (Marcus Conant nods in agreement) The whole issue of empowerment
here, of people taking charge of their own lives, is involved with this decision
making, to take this drug.
To summarize: The whole thrust of the video is to downplay AZT's side effects.
Doctors are to dismiss their patients' objections to AZT therapy as "psychological",
as short-term depression or anxiety. The loyalty of the doctor should be to Retrovir
("the treatment") rather than to the patient ("the disease"). The hidden message to
doctors is that they should not hesitate to kill their patients.
The hidden message to gay men is this: "You are doomed. Be brave, willing
sacrificial victims. People will applaud you, and laugh at your jokes. Do not listen
to the messages of your body."
Who is responsible?
Unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies, corrupt government officials, venal
physicians, stupid and cowardly media people, incompetent and dishonest
researchers-none of these things are new. They are business as usual. Where, then,
does the buck stop? Who is responsible for pharmacogenocide?
My thinking on this question was altered recently when I read Confessions of a
Medical Heretic by Robert Mendelsohn, who uncompromisingly places the blame
on the members of his own profession: Despite the obvious corruption of the drug
company/doctor marketing connection, I don't blame the drug companies, the detail
men, the government agencies which are supposed to police these activities, or the
patients who badger their doctors for drugs. Doctors have enough facts in their
possession to know what's going on. Even where the drug is fully tested and the
side effects and limitations of the drug are well known, most of the harm is done by
doctors indiscriminately prescribing the drug. Doctors, after all, are the ones who
claim the sacred power and the ethical superiority that goes with it. The drug
companies are in business to make money, and they do that by selling as much of
their product as they can at as high a price as they can. And although the drug
companies subvert the scientific process through which drugs are tested, certified,
and made available to doctors, once the drugs are available, they do let doctors
know-albeit subtly-just what these drugs can and cannot do.
All of us who know the truth about AZT will have to do what we can. Friends who
are on AZT must be told directly and forcefully that they must get off the drug if
they want to live. Public health officials, representatives of AIDS organizations, and
various and sundry other "AIDS experts" must be confronted with their lies. Above
all, doctors must be told that they have no right to prescribe a drug that can only
lead to the deaths of their patients. The buck stops with the AZT-pushing doctors.
They are responsible. *
1. John Lauritsen, Poison By Prescription: The AZT Story, New York 1990.
2. Robert S. Mendelsohn, Confessions of a Medical Heretic, Chicago 1979.
3. The most cogent and comprehensive arguments against the HIV-AIDS hypothesis are found in Peter H. Duesberg,
"Human Immunodeficiency Virus And Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome:
Correlation But Not Causation", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 86 (February 1989) pp. 755-764.
Peter H. Duesberg and Bryan J. Ellison, "Is the AIDS Virus a Science Fiction?", Policy Review, Summer 1990, pp. 40-51.
4. Erhard Neubert, "Kunstprodukt 'AIDS' in Schwierigkeiten" ("The Phony AIDS Construct in Trouble"), Raum & Zeit
(Space & Time), Special 4, Sauerlach, Germany, October 1990, pages 98-102. (The entire 115-page special issue of Raum &
Zeit is devoted to German, Swiss, and American AIDS dissidents, who attack the AIDS orthodoxies with much intelligence
and militancy. My favorite phrase, "Nur tote Fische schwimmen mit dem Strom!" ["Only dead fish swim with the stream!"])
5. Poison By Prescription.
6. The toxicities of poppers and the shady dealings of the poppers industry are described in Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS,
by John Lauritsen and Hank Wilson, New York 1986.
7. Casper G. Schmidt, "The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS", The Journal of Psychohistory, Summer 1983.
8. Michael Ellner and Andrew Cort, "Programmed to Die: Cultural Hypnosis and AIDS", manuscript 1990.