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No. 57: May-Jun 1988

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Does the aids virus really cause aids?

All but a tiny minority of scientists accept as fact that an organism called the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the cause of AIDS. This fact is hallowed and defended as vigorously as the facts of evolution, the Big Bang, and continental drift. Extremely nasty things are being said about a handful of heretics who attack this position.

"One leading dissident, UC Berkeley molecular biologist Peter H. Duesberg, believes that HIV is not the cause of AIDS -- at least not the sole cause.

"He thinks the virus may be an opportunistic organism that found a willing host in the AIDS patient who became sick from something else. That is, he believes HIV is the result of the disease, not the cause. Duesberg thinks the cause of AIDS has more to do with the life style of most of the AIDS patients, but he admits that he doesn't know exactly what."

Duesberg points out that three things must be true before a microorganism can be blamed for causing a disease. These are called Koch's Postulates, after R. Koch, who formulated them a century ago:

  1. Every patient who has the disease must also harbor the suspected microorganism. Some AIDS sufferers do not have the AIDS virus, although it is debated whether as many as half don't or very few don't.

  2. The microorganism must cause the disease when injected into research animals -- primates for example. The AIDS virus does not; although some other diseases, such as small pox, do not affect other animals either.

  3. The suspect microorganism must be isolated from the patient and grown in a culture.

Duesberg claims that HIV definitely fails the first two Koch tests. (Shurkin, Joel N.; "The AIDS Debate: Another View," Los Angeles Times, January 18, 1988. Cr. J.M. Ward)

Three months after the above article was published. the journal Science jumped into the fray. Additional points of interest:

  1. Duesberg considers the HIV to be such a "pussycat" that he would gladly be injected with the virus.

  2. Duesberg has published his reservations in Cancer Research, but no formal response from the scientific community has resulted, although there has been plenty of unpublished name-calling.

  3. The HIV behaves like no other known virus; viz., its long latency and its persistence despite the production of antibodies. (Actually, the herpes family of viruses is also known for its long latency.)

(Booth, William; "A Rebel without a Cause of AIDS," Science, 239:1485, 1988.)

Comment. There is much more to this controversy than we can cover here, including charges of financial improprieties and the existence of an AIDS Mafia.

Reference. AIDS anomalies are cataloged in BHH14 through BHH22 in: Biological Anomalies: Humans II. For a description of this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #57, MAY-JUN 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987