The Final Act
SHOULD HIV-AIDS CRITICS QUESTIONTHE EXISTENCE OF
There is a time in the affairs of men, which,
taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage
of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full
sea are we now afloat; And we must take the current when it serves,
or lose our ventures.
-- Julius Caesar , Act V, Scene III
About the authors,
biophysicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos and the phycicians who
sit with her on the faculty of the University of Western Australia's
In recent months AIDS reappraisers have debated
the wisdom of taking up the issue of HIV isolation as an argument
in our fight against mainstream AIDS science. Those who advise against
the isolation discussion list among their reasons:
(i) It will provide HIV/AIDS protagonists additional ammunition
with which to discredit us;
(ii) It makes little difference if people are being killed in the
name of a non-existent or a merely harmless virus;
(iii) It is an "existentialist" discussion.
From the very beginning (1, 2), we in the Perth group have presented
the evidence which may well prove to be the most significant argument
against the HIV model of AIDS. If we are correct that the data fail
to prove beyond reasonable doubt the existence of HIV then, in terms
of a putative exogenous retrovirus, there can be no "observations
to provide strong support for the official theory." No one
inside or outside the dissident ranks can escape from this point.
Although our group has published many scientific and epidemiological
reasons for doubting the existence of HIV, we largely avoided making
pronouncements such as, "HIV does not exist." We held
back for two reasons:
(i) To avoid having our papers rejected by academic journals, since
disputing the existence of HIV seems even more outrageous than disputing
a causal role for it in AIDS;
(ii) To avoid splitting the beleaguered coalition
of HIV-AIDS critics, since its most visible leader, UC-Berkeley
biologist Peter Duesberg, steadfastly asserts that the evidence
supporting HIV's existence is so overwhelming that disputing it
damages the coalition's collective credibility.
In 1996, Peter Duesberg forced our hand. In responding
to an of-fer of a cash prize for a paper proving the existence of
HIV offered by the British AIDS dissident publication Continuum,
his article directly challenged our research (3). Thus, we
then had no choice but to openly defend our position (4). We believe
now, that despite the political penalties, HIV-AIDS critics must question
the isolation -- and thus the existence of -- HIV for the following
We thought we could avoid these problems because we thought we could
deconstruct the infectious AIDS model without questioning or refuting
the existence of HIV.
WHY AIDS CRITICS MUST DEBATE HIV'S EXISTENCE
(i) Since 1996 it has become clear that AIDS dissidents are divided
on the isolation issue, and already some of the best known HIV proponents
realize it. We can no longer pretend otherwise.
(ii) Even the best formal and direct efforts by
Duesberg and even some HIV proponents have failed to identify data
that refute our conclusions about HIV's isolation and existence
-- the reason Continuum has awarded no one its prize.
Though many HIV-AIDS critics (even some who agree with us in private)
ignore the isolation issue in their public discourse, they do so
only by accepting half-truths.
(iii) "HIV" is the main obstacle -- indeed,
the only obstacle -- in deconstructing the HIV model of AIDS.
(iv) Demonstrating that HIV has not been isolated
is not an "existentialist" debate. In fact we consider
it the strongest argument we can muster.
The word "isolation" appears frequently in
scientific papers and in debate concerning HIV and indeed in virology
in general. For example, Montagnier's 1983 and two of Gallo's 1984
Science papers contain the word in their titles as well
as the text. Use of this word signals the reader that the paper presents
data proving that a virus exists. Authors of the first such report
can claim to have discovered the particular virus. Scientific readers
must consider whether the data presented as "isolation"
do indeed justify this claim.
If AIDS critics accept that no proof establishes the existence of
HIV, then the construction "AIDS" -- so premised on the
existence of HIV that its proponents call it "HIV disease"
-- collapses immediately, and all the so-called "HIV tests"
are automatically unmasked as being useless. If, on the other hand,
AIDS critics accept the existence of HIV, their debate with HIV-AIDS
could continue endlessly, no matter how courageously they fight
and no matter how many sacrifices they make. In this regard, Peter
Duesberg's unprecedented professional and personal ordeal provides
a wise and timely lesson to us all.
WHY HIV ISOLATION IS NECESSARY
Thus, the first absolutely necessary, but not sufficient, step in
proving the existence of a retrovirus is to isolate retrovirus-like
particles. That is, obtain such particles separate from everything
else. In other words, purify objects that at least look like retroviruses
when viewed by an electron microscope. There are many reasons why
isolation is necessary, including the following:
1. To prove that the retrovirus-like particles are infectious,
that is, the particles are a virus .
Finding a retrovirus either in vitro or in vivo
is not proof that it is exogenous -- that is, it originated from outside
the cell -- or that it is infectious. Furthermore, Gallo was well
aware of this problem as far back as 1976, when he wrote: "Release
of virus-like particles morphologically and biochemically resembling
type-C virus but apparently lacking the ability to replicate have
been frequently observed from leukaemic tissue." (5) In other
words, it is not sufficient to claim a particle is a retrovirus merely
on appearances. To prove that retrovirus-like particles observed in
a culture are virus particles one must isolate (purify) the particles,
characterize their proteins and RNA, and introduce them into a secondary
culture, preferably containing cells of a different type than the
primary culture. If any particles are released in the secondary culture,
isolate them and prove that their proteins and RNA are exactly the
same as those of the particles isolated from the primary culture.
In these types of experiments, one must not ignore the pivotal importance
of proper controls.
2. To determine their biological effects.
For this, only samples of pure virus-like particles will do.
Otherwise you cannot determine if the effects result from the possible
viruses or from contaminants. As Peter Duesberg has pointed out, Koch's
second postulate -- the microbe must be isolated from the host and
grown in pure culture -- "was designed to prove that a given
disease was caused by a particular germ, rather than by some undetermined
mixture of non-infectious substances." Ironically, in 1911 Peyton
Rous, the discoverer of retroviruses, issued the same caveat for retroviruses.
3. To characterize the viral proteins.
The only way to prove that a protein is a viral protein is
to obtain it from that object or, when the object is very small, as
is the case of viruses, from material which contains nothing else
but virus particles. If the material contains impurities which also
have proteins, it is not possible to determine what is viral and what
is not. Only after the viral proteins are characterized they can be
used as antigens in the antibody tests.
4. To characterize the viral genome.
As for viral proteins, the only way to prove that a stretch
of RNA is viral is to obtain it from material which contains nothing
else but virus particles. If the material contains impurities, the
impurities must not be constituted from RNA. Then, and only then,
can the RNA and its cDNA be used as probes and primers for genomic
hybridization and PCR studies.
5. To use it as a gold standard.
Just because a virus or viral protein reacts with an antibody
present in a patient's sera, this does not prove that the antibody
is directed against the virus or its proteins. That is, that the reaction
is specific. To determine the specificity of an antibody reaction,
one must use the virus as a gold standard. HIV-AIDS proponents such
as Donald Francis, MD, agree. Speculating on a viral cause for AIDS
in 1983, Francis wrote, "One must rely on more elaborate detection
methods through which, by some specific tool, one can 'see' a virus.
Some specific substances, such as antibody or nucleic acids, will
identify viruses even if the cells remain alive. The problem here
is that such methods can be developed only if we know what we are
looking for. That is, if we are looking for a known virus we can vaccinate
a guinea pig, for example, with pure virus. ... Obviously,
though, if we don't know what virus we are searching for and we are
thus unable to raise antibodies in guinea pigs, it is difficult to
use these methods...; we would be looking for something that might
or might not be there using techniques that might or might not work."
[italics ours] (7) The only way to perform hybridization and PCR studies
is to use the viral RNA or its cDNA or small fragments of it, as probes
and primers. However, as with antibodies which react with viral proteins,
a positive result, especially a positive PCR result, does not guarantee
that what is detected is viral RNA. To determine the specificity of
the PCR, the virus must be used as a gold standard.
All retrovirologists agree that one of the principal
defining physical characteristics of retroviruses is their density.
In sucrose density gradients they band at a density of 1.16g/ml.
Using the method of sucrose density banding in 1983 Francoise Barre-Sinoussi,
Luc Montagnier, and their colleagues claimed to have isolated a
retrovirus. That is, they claimed to have obtained material which
contained nothing else but "purified labeled virus" which
now is known as HIV. Robert Gallo's group in 1984 reported similar
claims. It goes without saying that if the material constituted
pure HIV, then all the proteins present in such material must represent
HIV proteins. Instead, they defined as HIV proteins those that they
found to react most often with sera from subjects with AIDS or at
risk for AIDS. They further defined the reacting antibodies as HIV-specific.
Since then, the reaction of these proteins with antibodies has been
considered proof of HIV infection. Again, if their material constituted
pure HIV, then all the nucleic acids present in their material must
represent the HIV genome. Instead, they arbitrarily chose only some
fragments of adenine-rich RNA as constituting -- when pieced together
-- the HIV genome. (No one has ever claimed to identify a complete
HIV genome, which must exist if HIV exists). Since then, these fragments
have been used as probes and primers for hybridization and PCR studies,
including the determination of "viral load."
The most significant problem in accepting the Montagnier-Gallo
claims is the fact that both failed to publish an electron microscope
picture of the "pure" HIV. Thus, neither justified their
claim of purity, that the material contained nothing else but isolated,
retrovirus-like particles, "purified labeled virus." In
1997 Montagnier responded to the French Journalist Djamel Tahi,
who asked why his group never published such pictures. Amazingly,
Montagnier replied, this was because in what his group called "purified"
HIV there were no particles with the "morphology typical of
retroviruses." When Tahi asked him if the Gallo group purified
HIV, Montagnier replied: "I don't know if he really purified.
I don't believe so." (8) If this is the case, then the 1983
Montagnier findings and the 1984 Gallo findings prove beyond all
reasonable doubt that they did not have any retrovirus, much less
a unique retrovirus, and that the proteins and the RNAs in their
"purified" material could not have been of retroviral
In the same year, 1997, the journal Virology
published two papers presenting the first electron micrographs
of "purified HIV" obtained by banding the supernatant
of "infected" cultures in sucrose density gradients (9,
10). The authors of both studies claimed that their "purified"
material contained some particles which looked like retroviruses,
which they labeled as HIV particles. But they admitted that their
material predominantly contained particles which were not viruses
but "mock virus", that is, "budding membrane particles
frequently called microvesicles."
Furthermore, "The cellular vesicles appear
to be a heterogeneous population of both electron-lucent and electron-dense
membrane-delineated vesicles ranging in size from about 50 to 500nm."
Many but not all of these mock viruses "appear empty by electron
microscopy." According to the authors of these studies, one
of the reasons that some of the "mock virus" particles
appear to have no core "might be that the vesicles contain
large amounts of protein and nucleic acid which are unstructured."
They showed that the microvesicles "are a major contaminant"
of the "purified" HIV. Indeed, the caption to one of the
electron micrographs reads, "Purified vesicles from infected
H9 cells (a) and activated PBMC (b) supernatants," not purified
In a further experiment, the supernatant from "non-infected"
cultures was also banded in sucrose gradients. The authors claimed
that the banded material from these cultures contained only microvesicles,
"mock virus" particles but no particles with the morphology
of HIV. The mock virus particles contain both DNA and RNA, including
poly-A rich mRNA.
No reason is given, other than morphological, for
why some of the particles in the fractions from the "infected"
cells are virus particles and the others "mock virus."
As far as morphology is concerned, none of the particles have all
the morphological characteristics attributed to HIV, or even retroviruses.
For example, the mean diameters of the particles published by Bess
are two and a half times the diameter of any known retrovirus particle.
The minimum absolutely necessary but not sufficient
condition to claim that what are called "HIV-1 particles"
are a retrovirus and not cellular microvesicles is to show that
the sucrose density fractions obtained from the "infected"
cells contain proteins which are not present in the same fractions
obtained from non-infected cells. However, Bess et al.
have shown this is not the case. The only difference one can see
in their SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis strips of "purified
virus" and "mock virus" is quantitative, not qualitative.
This quantitative difference may be due to many reasons, including
the fact that there were significant differences in the history
and the mode of preparation of the non-infected and "infected"
H9 cell cultures.
That the "viral" proteins are nothing
more than cellular proteins was further demonstrated by Arthur,
Bess and their associates. In their efforts to make an HIV vaccine,
they immunized macaques with, amongst other antigens, "mock
virus," that is, sucrose density-banded material from the supernatants
of non-infected H9 cell cultures. (11) After the initial immunization,
the monkeys were given boosters at 4, 8, and 12 weeks. The animals
were then challenged with "SIV" propagated either in H9
cells or macaque cells. When the WBs obtained after immunization
but before "SIV" challenge were compared with the WBs
post-challenge, it was found that challenge with "SIV"
propagated in macaque cells had some additional bands. However,
the WBs obtained after the challenge with SIV propagated in H9 cells
were identical with the WBs obtained after immunization, but before
challenge. In other words, the protein immunogens in the "virus"
were identical with the immunogens in the "mock virus."
Since both the "mock virus" and "purified"
virus contain the same proteins, then all the particles seen in
the banded materials, including what the authors of the 1997 Virology
papers call "HIV" particles, must be cellular vesicles.
Since there is no proof that the banded, "purified virus,"
material contains retrovirus particles, then there can be no proof
that any of the banded RNA is retroviral RNA. When such RNA (or
its cDNA) is used as probes and primers for hybridization and PCR
studies, no matter what results are obtained, they cannot be considered
proof for infection with a retrovirus, any retrovirus.
RA Editor Paul Philpott has said, "I
think the points that most effectively refute the HIV model have
not been taken up as the principal weapons of our most visible advocates."
We think the clear failure to demonstrate the existence of HIV represents
the most effective point of all.