THE DRUG-AIDS HYPOTHESIS
Peter Duesberg and David Rasnick
5. Drug-AIDS hypothesis
Since drugs are the only new health risk of Americans and Europeans
since the 1970s, and AIDS is the only new epidemic, it is proposed here
that the drug epidemic is the cause of the American and European AIDS epidemic.
The hypothesis is:
All AIDS diseases in America and Europe that exceed their long-established,
normal backgrounds (i.e. >95%) are caused by the long-term consumption
of recreational drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, nitrite inhalants, and
amphetamines, and by prescription of anti-HIV drugs, such as AZT.
Hemophilia-AIDS, transfusion-AIDS, and the extremely rare AIDS cases
of the general population reflect the normal incidence plus the AZT-induced
incidence of these diseases under a new name. The rarity of AIDS in the
general population is the product of (a) the low-frequency of AIDS defining
diseases in Americans who do not use drugs or have congenital diseases,
and (b) the low incidence of HIV-antibody in only 1 in 300 individuals
tested (see 2, Fig. 1).
African AIDS is a new name for old diseases caused by malnutrition,
parasitic infections and poor sanitation (11, 26).
The key to the drug hypothesis is that with drugs, the dose makes
the poison (211). Only long-term consumption accumulates sufficient
dosage to cause AIDS-defining diseases. Occasional or short-term recreational
drug use causes first the desired euphoria which is followed either by
reversible diseases or by no diseases at all. That is why it takes 20 years
of smoking to acquire the tabacco dose for lung cancer or emphysema,
20 years of drinking to acquire the alcohol dose for liver cirrhosis,
and 10 years of drug use to acquire the toxic dose leading to AIDS. In
other words, drugs used at recreational doses are slow pathogens.
In contrast to drugs, infectious agents are self-replicating, and hence
(if at all) fast pathogens. By multiplying exponentially in the body pathogenic
infectious agents generate sufficient doses of toxic substances to cause
diseases within days or weeks (50, 212). Thus, microbes are either fast
pathogens or no pathogens at all.
Hardly anybody remembers that from 1981 to 1984, before the HIV hypothesis
became national dogma, recreational drugs such as nitrite and ethylchloride
inhalants, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, phenylcyclidine, and LSD, were
proposed by epidemiologists and toxicologists as the causes of AIDS. The
reason for the early suspicion of drugs was simple. Nearly all AIDS patients
were either male homosexuals who had used these drugs as aphrodisiacs and
psychoactive agents, or were heterosexual intravenous drug users (111,
130, 132, 138, 144, 213-218). Before April 1984 many independent investigators
and even scientists from the CDC in Atlanta considered AIDS a collection
of drug diseases.
For example, between 1981 and 1982 the former CDC head James Curran
stated, "At this point our best clue to the cause of the disease was
‘poppers’" (219). Curran’s clue was gleaned from anecdotal evidence
including the first two Kaposi’s sarcoma patients seen by Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien,
professor of dermatology at New York University. Both of these patients
were male homosexuals who "had a multiplicity of sexual partners over
an extended period of time as well as using a variety of recreational drugs
cocaine, marijuana, LSD, THC, MDA, and amyl nitrite." Friedman-Kien
regularly called CDC officials to report his experience with AIDS: "…as
patients started coming in, it turned out that all of them, 100 percent,
had been using amyl nitrite" (219). The CDC’s AIDS researcher Harold
Jaffe, now director of the HIV/AIDS division, also reported, through information
gathered anecdotally, that over 90% of the surviving AIDS patients he talked
to admitted regular nitrite use (111, 219).
Evidence continued to mount strongly supporting a correlation between
nitrite use and AIDS. This included two Lancet articles, one by
NIH researchers James Goedert, William Blattner et al. (132), another
by an English team (108), the data collected by Harry Haverkos of the CDC’s
Kaposi’s sarcoma opportunistic infection (KSOI) task force, and an abundance
of prior studies on the immunotoxic effects of nitrates and nitrites (130).
Drugs seemed to be the most plausible explanation for the restriction
of AIDS to risk groups, because drug consumption was the only dangerous
common denominator of male and female intravenous drug users and male homosexuals.
This original drug-AIDS hypothesis was euphemistically called the "lifestyle
The drug-AIDS hypothesis was just as plausible then as it is now. Drug
toxicity provides chemically plausible causes of disease. Based on their
intrinsic chemical properties drugs used by AIDS patients are either indirectly
toxic, cytotoxic, mutagenic (genotoxic), carcinogenic, or a combination
of these. And, since its appearance in 1981 AIDS coincides exactly, both
chronologically and epidemiologically, with the American and European drug
use epidemics (see 3. and 4.).
However, since the enthusiastic acceptance of the HIV hypothesis by
the Secretary of HHS and the press in April 1984, the drug hypothesis has
been suppressed and discredited by the medical and scientific establishment,
by the public press and by AIDS activists, and all federal funding for
the drug hypothesis has been terminated (6, 11, 12, 96, 221) (see 7.).
Asked in 1996 about the CDC’s negligence in considering the drug-AIDS connection,
Curran, now dean of the School of public Health at Emory University in
Atlanta, told the Wall Street Journal, "treating drug addiction
wasn’t directly part of the CDC’s mandate, stopping the spread of AIDS
among needle-sharing addicts ‘fell between the cracks’" (28). In the
preceeding paragraph the article reports that, "the CDC’s biggest
single prevention program, AIDS prevention ... accounted for $589 million."
But that was all spent on HIV, not a nickel was left for drugs.
In view of the popularity of the national HIV-AIDS dogma, five of the
six early American proponents of the drug hypothesis, Blattner, Curran,
Friedman-Kien, Goedert and Jaffe converted to the HIV hypothesis, without
even offering a scientific refutation of the drug hypothesis. Haverkos
survived as a semi-proponent of the drug hypothesis by adopting HIV as
a cofactor (78).
But despite its poor press the drug hypothesis stands scientifically
unrefuted. Indeed, the efforts to refute the drug hypothesis have instead
provided new data to support it (114, 115, 222, 223) (see 7.).