By the International Coalition for Medical Justice

28 July 1999

Distinguished Member of Congress:

1996 was a stellar year in AIDS treatment. In July the International AIDS Conference in Vancouver buzzed with upbeat reports about the new "AIDS cocktail." The centerpiece of this new therapeutic regimen was a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. The Wall Street Journal's Michael Waldholtz announced: "Fifteen years into the global AIDS epidemic, researchers are seeing the first glimmerings of a cure."

Three short years later that hope has dimmed and the "c word" is seldom used. On a recent Nightline appearance, AIDS researcher and clinician Dr. Michael Saag acknowledged: "slowly, initially at a trickle and now more at a roar, we're seeing patients come back who have been on the treatments for two and three years who are developing virologic failure. The virus is coming back." Speaking to the gloomy prospects in a recent Esquire article, Dr. Saag went on to "They aren't dying of a traditionally defined AIDS illness. I don't know what they're dying of, but they are dying. They're just wasting and dying."

The FY2000 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services alone is $8.4 billion. The dollars devoted to HIV/AIDS eclipses that devoted to heart disease and cancer by several orders of magnitude. Were we not counting money at all the human cost to the country is still incalculable.

It took the United States only a year to devise a plan to land Americans on the moon and less than a decade to get there. Twenty years into the AIDS epidemic we appear to be back at square one. What's going on here? We can wipe out smallpox and polio, oversee the end of the cold war, land men on the moon and be defeated by a disease?

At the risk of appearing heretical, we believe it is time to step back and review our overall strategy. There is a large and growing view in the scientific community that AIDS research to date is based on a fundamentally flawed scientific construct: that a virus known as HIV is the cause of AIDS.

The notion that HIV = AIDS is "common knowledge" amongst the public and perhaps among our leaders. Common knowledge is, all too often, more myth than fact. Just so with regards to HIV=AIDS.

Medical history is replete with examples of scientific errors that become orthodoxy and thus difficult to question. Here is but one example: In 1983 Dr. Barry Marshall, a then obscure Australian Physician, announced to his colleagues that peptic ulcer disease was caused by a common bacteria not diet, stress or acid.

Initially Dr. Marshall was dismissed by many in the medical world who objected to his brashness, unorthodox methods and lack of standing in the research community. But he was persistent in his view thus other scientists set out to duplicate his work in order to disprove his "bizarre theories". Eventually, Senator Edward Kennedy, hoping to cut the cost of treating Medicaid patients with ulcers, pushed for a definitive analysis of the debate. In 1994 the National Institute of Health made it official: Ulcers were caused by Helicobacter pylori, an odd bacteria widely present in humans that in some twenty percent of those infected causes peptic ulcers. For most a cure is effected with two weeks of antibiotics.

It is time for just such a definitive analysis of the cause of AIDS.

Enclosed is a reprint: "The Case Is Not Closed" from "Dancing Naked In the Mind Field" by Dr. Kary Mullis, the 1993 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. Dr. Mullis speaks of his experience in trying to find the scientific data to support the hypothesis that a virus labeled HIV was the cause.

To his astonishment, no such data exists.

Dr. Mullis is a feisty writer; his views are stated in no uncertain terms. We might be somewhat less aggressive in our own presentation but we are in agreement as to his discoveries: that there is no objective scientific evidence that HIV causes AIDS. Without such evidence how can we as a nation devise an effective plan of attack?

We believe that a thorough review of the underlying science will show that the early adoption of the HIV=AIDS paradigm was a colossal medical blunder. We do not suggest that there is wrongdoing here. Bureaucratic and scientific pressures and processes can be ponderous and in all our fragile humanity, mistakes occur. Then error compounds and over time becomes established truth. Challenging the initial paradigm becomes tantamount to saying: "The Emperor Has No Clothes.

So there is no confusion about our message. We are indeed stating: "The Emperor Has No Clothes."

We are also providing you with a copy of "Inventing the AIDS Virus" by Dr. Peter Duesberg. Dr. Duesberg, a tenured professor at the University of California at Berkeley and member of the National Academy of Sciences has been a dissenting investigator since 1987. While there were many voices of dissent in early years they were generally practitioners and others who lacked substantial "fire power" in mainstream science. Peter Duesberg was the first "name" from the scientific world but those voices grow in number and volume with each passing year.

Although dissenters may differ with regard to what they believe causes AIDS we are in agreement that it is unlikely to be HIV. We could have chosen any number of thoughtful scholarly works or collections of articles to present to you that challenge the HIV=AIDS paradigm. We do not necessarily endorse Dr. Duesberg's theory of causation over competing notions but we chose his book for many reasons. He was the first of many dissenters who had a truly international reputation. He was widely considered to be a strong candidate for a Nobel prize and broadly respected in the scientific community. Furthermore, we admire his tenacity in continuing to speak even as the personal costs have escalated. As you will read, medical science does not treat its dissenters kindly.

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to read and evaluate the enclosed material and then to join us in reassessing our national agenda related to AIDS. A logical next step would be thorough program and financial audits, under the supervision of the GAO, of all AIDS research. We are asking that you support such a review.

In addition, we are proposing a conference of AIDS researchers - both those who represent the views that are currently orthodox and those who challenge the underlying HIV = AIDS paradigm. The purpose of the conference would be to agree on a set of experiments for testing the competing hypotheses and to agree on protocols for that research. We are willing to provide financial support for such a conference.

We also note that the topic of AIDS provides a tempting opportunity for partisan stances and political posturing. This is not our intent and we support no particular political view. We are aware from news reports that there has been a letter requesting a GAO review by Congressmen Armey, Bliley and Coburn. We support their request but would go further in asking that all expenditures be subject to assessment not just those related to the provision of services to people with AIDS.

We look forward to working with you in achieving an end to AIDS, a disease that has clearly caused too much pain and suffering both in the United States and Worldwide.

Very Truly Yours,


Deane Collie,
Executive Director

Robert Leppo,
Board Member