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Monday, September 04, 2006

Inventing the AIDS Virus - Review

“HIV is NOT responsible for AIDS.”
“AIDS is NOT a virus.”
“AIDS is NOT infectious.”
If these statements contradict what you “know” about AIDS, you are not alone. “Inventing the AIDS Virus”, by Peter Duesberg sets out to “re-educate” the public by disclosing “evidence-revealed in top scientific journals but kept out of the mainstream press...”. If you think this was written by a tabloid journalist, you are wrong. Peter Duesberg is professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, a pioneer in retrovirus research, the first scientist to isolate a cancer gene, and recipient of the Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Institutes of Health. His articles challenging the current knowledge of HIV/AIDS have appeared in scientific journals including The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature, and many others.
The foreword to the book, written by 1993 Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis, begins by focusing on the HIV/AIDS relationship. According to Mullis (and Duesberg), no proof exists in support of the relationship, and in fact, no person or organization takes credit for what would be one of the most significant findings of the decade. The book goes on to argue that AIDS is not a virus because it does not meet the criteria of Koch’s Postulates and that HIV and AIDS are actually two separate conditions. Numerous other questions and concerns are set forth in an often scathing account of political and economic jealousy within the scientific community. Whether or not you agree with the Duesbergs’ “evidence”, the book presents a “behind the scene” look at the chaotic side of science. Conflicting personalities, disgruntled co-workers, poor funding, political and social pressure, and outright error surface as common themes throughout the book. The author himself presents a conspiratorial view of the workings of science, often placing himself as a victim, or the upholder of scientific integrity for the population at large.
This conspiratorial stance is reinforced by the tone of the writing. Duesberg has an irritating habit of speaking of himself in the third person and using unverifiable accounts of others in the scientific community who presumable agree with his findings but fear harm to their reputation. That same thought occurred to me shortly into the voluminous seven-hundred pages; I began to wonder what would possess the author to risk his own reputation by writing a book that asserts the entire foundation of AIDS research and treatment is not only ineffective, but actually responsible for the death of thousands. By lamenting the unreceptive nature of some journals, and ignoring those who have published his work, Duesberg fails to recognize the effectiveness of the system he so adamantly opposes.
Besides an enlightening view of the politics of science, “Inventing the AIDS Virus” raises some interesting questions, however, these must be weighed with the potential risk for harm. If the book is believed, the drugs used to treat AIDS would be discontinued and a radical change in education and prevention would be underway. Obviously for those who face HIV/AIDS these questions represent life or death issues with far more serious consequences. Perhaps most disturbing is that there is no middle ground of safety available between Duesbergs’ “evidence” and mainstream science.
Science is full of stories where one man made a breakthrough discovery; indeed, it is the cornerstone of science. Concerning AIDS, whether or not that one man is Peter Duesberg only time will tell, but for those searching for answers and comfort, this book is sure to raise only anxiety. “Inventing the AIDS Virus” is a controversial book; so controversial it risks being banished to a discount bin in a grocery store checkout line near you.


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