Truth and Heresy About AIDS

Inventing the AIDS Virus

by Peter H. Duesberg
Regnery, 722 pp., $29.95

Infectious AIDS: Have We Been Misled?

by Peter H. Duesberg
North Atlantic, 582 pp., $18.95

AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced?

edited by Peter H. Duesberg
Kluwer Academic, 358 pp., $227.50, $49.50 (paper)

After more than a decade of intensive medical research into AIDS, of energetic international public health campaigns and the emergence of a vast academic and commercial industry built around human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the confident observer might dismiss the following proposition:

Despite enormous efforts, over 100,000 papers and over $35 billion spent by the US tax payer alone, the HIV-AIDS hypothesis has failed to produce any public health benefits: no vaccine, no effective drug, no prevention, no cure, not a single life saved.

The scientist who made this statement is not an obscure crank. He is Peter Duesberg, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, a brilliant virologist, and the former recipient of an award for outstanding investigative research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Duesberg discovered the first cancer-related gene in 1970. Yet he is now perhaps the most vilified scientist alive. His work inspires excoriating attacks. In a review of Inventing the AIDS Virus, published in the scientific journal Nature, John Moore, who works at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York, concluded:

Duesberg wraps together his twisted facts and illogical lines of argument to create a tangled web to trap the unwary, desperate or gullible. But however much he attempts to gild his writings with philosophies of scientific truth, the reality is that his premises are based not on facts but on faith: faith that he is right, and everyone else is wrong…. How sad, and how ultimately pathetic.

What extraordinary course of events has led him to be dismissed by his peers and ridiculed by his colleagues?

Duesberg makes two astonishing claims. First, that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. And, second, that since AIDS cannot be understood as a single disease, it must have different causes according to which group of people—hemophiliacs or homosexual men, for example—one studies. The case against HIV is made by Duesberg in fifteen articles, in Infectious AIDS: Have We Been Misled?, and in AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced? Three years after its first announcement, and three publishers and five editors later, his most recent book, Inventing the AIDS Virus, draws together these arguments into a historically and logically coherent tale. In describing AIDS as “a fabricated epidemic,” he recounts the scandals of misleading research, the accusations of fraud leveled against scientists such as the co-discoverer of HIV, Robert Gallo, and the hyperbole of early estimates predicting the huge epidemic proportions of AIDS. And in an unusual aside, the publisher, Regnery, sheds neutrality by declaring that “if Duesberg is right in what he says about AIDS, and we think he is, he documents one of the great science scandals of the century.”

On the basis of thirty years’ research experience into the group of viruses known as retroviruses, he acquits HIV as the cause of AIDS. He shows how dissidents who share his view have been snubbed by most other scientists. They have been forced to …

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Review of a Review October 31, 1996

The AIDS Heresy’: An Exchange August 8, 1996