AIDS: Scam or Scare?

"HIV does not cause AIDS." Author Evan Lambrou is not alone in his startlingassertion. Lambrou has written a book based on his interviews with Dr. PeterDuesburg, professor of molecular biology at the University of Berkeley,California. The book, titled AIDS: Scare or Scam? (Vantage Press), wasoriginally inspired by an article published in SPIN magazine seven years ago aboutDuesburg and his declaration that HIV cannot possibly be the cause of AIDS. "The more I read about it," explains Lambrou, "the more interested I became. Iwanted to try and publish something as a magazine article." Lambrou, who at the time was an aspiring journalist living in Seattle, pored overarticles, researched the matter, and submitted proposals to a number of mainstreammagazines and newspapers, but no one accepted the piece for publication. In early1992, Lambrou found himself writing for a newspaper in Ogdensburg, NY, and againhe submitted what was intended to be a series of articles on the HIV/AIDSconnection to several magazines -- and again it was rejected. "My effort was toconvey Duesburg's message, and that of his supporters, through the mainstreammedia. I didn't want to go the alternative route."By September of that year he was convinced that he had to rework the idea if itwere ever to see the light of day. Lambrou took a break from writing, workinginstead as a bank teller in Ithaca, his hometown, and in March 1993 Vantage Pressinformed him that it wanted to turn his manuscript into a book. "I felt that Duesberg was saying something that made a lot of sense and I wasexcited about it because it was diametrically opposed to what the public has beenled to believe," Lambrou says. "So I wanted to expose the issue. I was interestedin raising the question. I felt very strongly that the establishment was lying."In addition to questioning conventional thought, Lambrou felt that he could alsomake a name for himself as a journalist by exploring the matter in a way no oneelse had before. "I believe Duesberg is telling the truth...I have no animositytoward the opposing point of view, I just feel they have not adequately respondedto Duesberg. And I want them to know they haven't, and I feel they should. That'sthe book." At the heart of the issue is the role of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in the transmission of AIDS, acquiredimmune deficiency syndrome. Briefly, Lambrou's book consists of interviews withDr. Duesburg that seek to explain, in lay terms, the scientific basis for hisargument that HIV is not and cannot possibly be the cause for AIDS. "Most peopledon't realize that HIV [as the cause for AIDS] is an unproven hypothesis," Lambrousays. In the book Duesberg states that HIV's "rate of infection is far too low toeven remotely damage the immune system." Furthermore, the amount of HIV found ininfected people is negligible, so it is not even a factor in AIDS. Duesbergstresses an important distinction the public generally ignores: that AIDS testsreveal the presence of antibodies to HIV, not the virus itself. "If you haveantibodies," says Duesberg, "you should be congratulated. You're safe. Theantibodies mean your immune system is doing its job, so you don't have to worryabout the virus anymore. If HIV wreaked havoc on your immune system, you wouldn'tbe able to produce antibodies." If the antibody to HIV was incapable of fighting the infection, the virus itselfcould then be readily recovered from the blood samples of infected hosts. But,notes the doctor, HIV is extremely difficult to isolate, even in people withfull-blown AIDS.Lambrou points out that there are several hundred other scientists world-wide whoopenly support a reappraisal of AIDS and its causes. Dr. Robert E. Wilner recentlypublished a book called Deadly Deception, which states categorically that"AIDS is not caused by HIV...We have all been lied to and sold a bill of goods bya handful of unscrupulous, immoral scientists that care more for money and powerthan for the truth and human life itself." Wilner, who refers to Duesburgrepeatedly in his book, claims that, "Most of the medically supervised AIDS deathswere either caused or contributed to by the deadly drug AZT...a drug that wasshelved more than 20 years ago because it was found to be too toxic to give toterminally ill patients. The entire AIDS hypothesis is based on a total lie." Oneof the hallmarks of AIDS is that the body's T-cells are devastated by the disease,and yet, according to these researchers, HIV has been proven incapable of killingthose cells in the lab. The virus also is found in such small numbers (when foundat all) in infected persons that, again, it cannot possibly be the cause of the monstrous destruction associated with AIDS, the researchers point out. In a foreword to Lambrou's book, Dr. Duesberg predicts that AIDS can besuccessfully treated and controlled, "...but only after AIDS researchers, whocurrently receive in excess of $4 billion from the United States taxpayersannually, agree to openly reconsider their opinion; only after the 250,000 peoplepresently prescribed AZT realize they are poisoning themselves in the name of anerroneous hypothesis that remains unproven; and only after drug-takers, whobelieve the current medical orthodoxy that condoms and clean needles protect themfrom promiscuity and drug toxicity, realize they are killing themselves with theirown intemperance."Wilner underscores this premise in Deadly Deception, explaining that "..whenMargeret Heckler, [then] head of Health and Human Services, adopted HIV as thecause of AIDS, basically all institutions which rely on federal government funding or grants had to goalong and cooperate or face extinction." Wilner conjures a scenario linkingHeckler's decision with the research of Dr. Robert Gallo, one of the foremostnames in AIDS investigation whose work has been widely discredited, Wilner says,and who, in fact, was found guilty of scientific misconduct. "Heckler," statesWilner, "...was under great political pressure to come up with an answer to AIDS."It was no accident, says Wilner, that Gallo just happened to patent the test forHIV the day after the announcement was made to the world press that you-know-whatwas the cause of AIDS. "It likewise is no accident that Gallo is now amultimillionaire because of AIDS and his fraudulent AIDS test," Wilner says. "This is not a new idea," says George Ferrari, executive director of AIDS Work ofTompkins County, adding his voice to the debate. "A lot of people have beenkeeping the scientific door open. A lot of people have been looking for thecause." But, according to his best and well-educated guesses, "We're probablystill talking about an infectious disease." Ferrari emphasizes the importance ofadhering to the commonly accepted theory of transmission. "Safety precautions arestill a good idea as the cause, whatever it is, is most likely blood borne."He speaks of research, seeking to pinpoint possible combinations, or co-factors,that may create the devastating acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Chicken pox,herpes simplex, and other more common diseases are suspects in this scientificsearch for the dread killer. Ferrari tends to reject blaming AZT as the cause forAIDS deaths, pointing out that many who have died from the disease have nevertaken the drug. "We don't know everything we'd like to know about HIV. That is alegitimate scientific question." However, he supports the notion that HIV isinvolved in some way. "We just don't know to what extent.""There is no other human disease known to be caused by a virus that needs anotherinfectious agent to help the virus out," states Lambrou. He admits that he doesnot have a medical background, but he explains, "I'm presenting information here,more so than I am presenting a position paper. I do have an opinion but I am notan authority. I try to present the information as it was given to me by the peopleI actually spoke to and the documents I actually read."While researchers like Duesberg, Wilner and others are challenging prevailingtheories about the cause, no one is suggesting that AIDS is not a real disease, orthat it's not killing people in growing numbers. "The larger issue, in myopinion," says Lambrou, "is that scientists make mistakes. Scientists interpretresults from experiments, and sometimes they do it in the way they want to do it,not in the way they ought to do it. This is a problem because the scientificcommunity is funded primarily by the taxpayers. And they tell the public, 'We knowwhat we're doing, we're trained, trust us.' And the public says, 'Sure, go ahead.You're a lot smarter than we are. You're going to save us from this epidemic.'" Lambrou notes the swine flu fiasco, in the mid-1970's, when scientists warned of amassive epidemic and the need for a vaccination program. The epidemic, he pointsout, never materialized, but dozens of people died from the vaccine itself. Theauthor also makes reference to the ground-breaking work of Louis Pasteur, and thescientist's attempts to explain the existence of microbes: "The main body of thescientific community was against him. It turned out...that Pasteur was right.""Science is not a seamless body of orderly knowledge. It is more a complex mass ofconflicting beliefs," Lambrou says. "That's what I think people ought to realizesince it is our money that is funding these scientific projects. They ought to bescrutinizing what the scientists are doing." Duesberg and others suggest that the causes of AIDS have more to do with lifestylethan any specific exotic infectious agent. Sexual promiscuity, whatever yourpreference, has long been known to be a dangerous vector for numerous infections.Intense drug use, not only of illicit substances, but even of prescriptionmedications, tends to suppress the immune system as well. The medical community istracking an alarming increase in various infectious diseases that seem to haveresulted from mutations by viruses and bacteria reacting to the widespread use ofantibiotics.A frightening list of ailments, including many thought to be under control byscience along with others that have never been seen as problems for humans, hascaused increasing concern among doctors all over the world. AIDS, while among themost frightening of these, is just one of a series of devastating illnessesafflicting humans today.

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