By Kary B. Mullis, Phillip E. Johnson & Charles A. Thomas Jr.

The San Diego Union-Tribune 15 May 1994

Every day we hear and read about "HIV, the virus that causes AIDS." Perhaps no other medical issue in history has received such sustained attention by the media, the entertainment industry, popular literature and the federal government. Therefore it is understandable that most people, as well as most physicians and medical scientists, have come to believe that the entire world is in the grips of a pandemic that is relentlessly spreading throughout every segment of society.

For more than 10 years, this apocalyptic prospect has been drummed into everyone-ever since that memorable day in April 1984 when Margaret Heckler, then secretary of health and human services, announced that "the probable cause of AIDS has been found." At that point, Robert Gallo, a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, took the microphone and declared that AIDS was an infectious disease, that HIV was the culprit, and that medical scientists at the National Institutes of Health had come to the rescue and would soon have a vaccine for HIV and have the problem under control. They didn't.

The decision to blame AIDS on HIV was a political one- certainly not a scientific one-for at that time no scientific papers had been published, and the normal critical procedures of the scientific community had not been allowed to operate. Gallo's papers that followed did not establish a causal relationship and subsequent official inquiries demonstrated them to be flawed for other reasons as well.

Nonetheless, the prospect was seen to be so threatening that the federal government began pumping millions, then billions of dollars into AIDS research-which meant research on HIV, because "HIV was the virus that causes AIDS."

So here we are ten years later. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, more than $22 billion in tax money has been expended since 1982 and this spending continues at the rate of $6 billion per year on treatment and research. Virtually all this spending is based upon the idea that AIDS is an infectious disease and that HIV is the cause.

Therefore, seven major points will come as some surprise to the general reader:

1. Although more than 75,000 scientific papers have been published on AIDS, no paper has seriously considered all relevant evidence and attempted to prove that HIV causes AIDS. Some papers respond to specific objections but begin by assuming that HIV causes AIDS, which is the very question at issue. If such a paper were possible to write, it would have been written, and been the most widely cited scientific publication of this century. Since such papers do not exist, it is impossible to refute or substantiate the arguments they might contain. Papers on HIV and AIDS exist, of course, but they assume HIV causes AIDS, which is the very question at issue.

2. The number of AIDS cases enumerated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has shown an annual increase, but since the beginning, the percentage increase has been decreasing for 11 years in a row. (Epidemics are supposed to show an increase before decreasing.) The numbers are inflated from time to time by changing the definitions as the CDC did in 1987 and then again in 1993. For example, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (which follows the CDC definitions), there were 1,566 reported cases of AIDS during the first six months of 1992 and using the same definition only 1,397 (11 percent fewer) for the first six months of 1993. However, if the expanded 1993 definition is used, the numbers are increased to 4,102, a 162 percent increase, which of course fosters the fear of a continuing epidemic and maximizes funding.

Perhaps the cruelest deception fostered by the AIDS industry is the false idea that AIDS is spreading throughout the entire population and that "everyone is at risk." Nothing could be farther from the truth. The CDC's own records show that AIDS cases are 90 percent male and largely restricted to homosexuals and I.V. drug consumers.

Actuary Robert W. Maver has examined the latest CDC data base and finds that the number of teen-age (13-19) cases of AIDS not involving homosexual or I.V. drug behavior is only 5. Five kids in the entire United States. The comparable number for 20- to 24-year-olds is 55. These minuscule numbers could be even smaller because teen-agers (and young adults) have been known to lie about their behavior. Even so, the chance of ending up as an AIDS case if you avoid homosexual and drug behavior is less than the chance of being struck by lightning. Nonetheless, on the basis of these vanishingly small numbers, school children throughout the United States are subjected to safe-sex education.

The definition of AIDS needs some explanation. First of all, AIDS itself is not a disease: It is a collection of other diseases that have been recognized by medical science for many years. People have been dying of these diseases for centuries. What is new is the definition of AIDS itself: AIDS has been defined by the CDC as the presence of one or more of the 25 to 30 different "AIDS diseases" provided that the individual has some evidence of being infected by HIV. Ordinarily, this is a positive HIV antibody test, the presence of which generally indicates that the body has successfully fought off the HIV infection.

You don't need to be a medical scientist to see at once that HIV is associated with every AIDS case: if you have tuberculosis and no evidence of HIV, you are a tuberculosis case; if you have the same disease and show a HIV positive antibody test, then you are an AIDS case. By definition, this would mean that every official AIDS case would have an antibody to HIV.

Ironically, the CDC does not even apply its own definition in recording AIDS cases. Frequently, no HIV testing has been done, a "presumptive diagnosis" is made and it is included in the tabulations as an AIDS case. The CDC admits to 40,000 such cases, but molecular biologist Peter Duesberg argues that the number must be much higher.

The list of AIDS diseases keeps lengthening with new additions. For example the CDC's most recent additions were CD4 cells lower than 200, tuberculosis, recurrent pneumonia and invasive cervical cancer. The last addition is said to embarrass some CDC officials because of its transparent political origin, because 90 percent of the past AIDS cases were men.

3. More than 150 chimpanzees have been infected with HIV, and they show mild flu-like symptoms just as humans do, but after a week or two their immune systems rally and the virus concentration in the blood is reduced to negligible levels and the animals recover. They now seem to be living out the rest of their lives without the characteristic ravages of "AIDS." In this regard, they respond just as many known HIV-positive people, many of whom have been living for more than 11 years without ill-effects. In the Scientific American, UC San Francisco Professor of Medicine Warner C. Greene explains this anomaly as follows:

"It is even possible that some strains (of HIV) are benign." It is time to ask whether any strain of HIV is harmful.

4. By sampling large numbers of people, the CDC has estimated that about 0.4 percent of the population of the United States is HIV+ -- that is has antibodies to HIV, an indication of prior infection by the virus. This percentage, which has not changed for 9 years, calculates out to 1 million Americans. According to Lawrence Altman in the March 1 New York Times, new CDC surveys indicate only 600,000 to 800,000. So much for the epidemic of HIV infection.

5. In contrast with the unwillingness of the AIDS research community to produce a definitive scientific paper summarizing the reasons for hypothesizing that HIV causes AIDS, Peter Duesberg, the highly accomplished virologist from UC Berkeley and member of the National Academy of Sciences, has carefully documented and published the reasons why the "HIV causes AIDS hypothesis" fails every scientific test. His arguments have never been answered. His research funds have been terminated. Perhaps more disgraceful is the fact that this monstrous situation has received very little attention by the general media.

6. Perhaps Duesberg's most telling point is that he has found in the published literature accounts of 4,621 cases (1,691 in the United States) of individuals with AIDS diseases who show no evidence of having been infected by HIV. This means that something else must be causing AIDS in these cases. So why can't this "something else" be causing AIDS in most other cases?

When evidence of this kind was presented at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam in 1992, authorities at the CDC admitted that they had known about a number of cases like this for some time, but apparently kept this information hidden.

It now turns out that the number of such cases could be quite large indeed. If left unchallenged, this observation alone would demolish the HIV-causes-AIDS-hypothesis.

To explain this anomaly the CDC invented a new disease called ICL, (Idiopathic CD4+ Lymphocytopenia) a totally forgettable name that means "AIDS without HIV."

It should be noted that physicians and health departments have an incentive to diagnose patients with AIDS symptoms as AIDS cases whenever they can because the federal government pays the medical expenses of AIDS patients under the Ryan White Act, but not for people equally sick with the same diseases who test negative for HIV antibodies.

7. The reason that the public is unaware of the significance and seriousness of the HIV dissenters is because they have been prevented from publishing. For instance, the editors of the leading scientific journals have refused to print even the brief statement by the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis which now has over 400 members (including the present authors).

This four-sentence statement notes simply that "many biomedical scientists now question (the HIV causes AIDS) hypothesis" and calls for "a thorough reappraisal of existing evidence for and against this hypothesis."

Such a reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis should include the following:

Carefully controlled epidemiological studies of all major risk groups: homosexuals, drug users, transfusion recipients and hemophiliacs. These studies should use an unbiased definition of AIDS (not requiring HIV as part of the definition) and be conducted by people who are truly committed to testing the HIV hypothesis rather than defending it.

An audit of the CDC data base to remove HIV bias and thereby to allow the fair testing of the critical epidemiological evidence for and against the HIV hypothesis. It should be determined how many of the AIDS patients were actually tested for HIV antibody and by what procedures. The antibody test itself is not perfect and many false positives are known under certain circumstances. The CDC's statistics have been assembled as if the purpose were to protect the HIV theory rather than learn the truth.

Research focusing on the cause of a particular disease rather than the politically defined collection of disparate diseases now called AIDS. For example, Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) was originally one of the best AIDS-defining conditions. However, leading KS experts now say that there are dozens of cases of KS without HIV. It is quite possible that Peter Duesberg is right that the use of amyl nitrite (poppers) by male homosexuals is the true cause of KS. This proposal is easily testable and the work should proceed.

A critical re-examination of the epidemiology of AIDS and HIV in Africa and elsewhere. Most AIDS in Africa is diagnosed using very manipulatable definitions; antibody testing, if done at all is suspect because of cross-reacting antibodies produced as a consequence of other endemic infections such as malaria.

Given the 10 years of total lack of progress on AIDS, the billions of dollars that have been wasted, the human heart-ache that this issue has caused so many Americans, it seems only sensible that we should re-examine the question of what really causes AIDS. At issue here are not only the lives of those diagnosed with AIDS who are being treated improperly, but also of those who are tormented by the fear of AIDS-for themselves and their children. We can't allow the scientific bureaucrats at the CDC and NIH to prevent this reappraisal from happening. *

Mullis of San Diego is the 1993 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction technique which is often used to search for fragments of HIV sequences. Johnson is the Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Thomas, a molecular biologist, is the president of the Helicon Foundation in San Diego and secretary of The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS