everybody positive for HIV?
infected by HIV?
HIV-testing expert Roberto Giraldo, MD, noticed something strange.
Whereas HIV-antibody test procedures stipulate very high dilutions
of patient sera, instructions for other viral antibody tests call
for little or no diluting. Giraldo examined 83 subjects with sera
that, when heavily diluted as directed, tests HIV-negative. But
when undiluted, all the sera tested positive.
What could this mean?
PHYSICIAN Roberto Giraldo realized something
didn't fit soon after he began working at a prestigious New York
City university hospital laboratory that runs tests for a variety
of microbes. The HIV-antibody test instructions call for technicians
to heavily dilute patient sera (cell-free blood similar to plasma).
The antibody tests for all other viruses call for little or no diluting.
What justified this extraordinarily large
amount of diluting? Giraldo asked colleagues and lab technicians,
sent e-mails around the world, phoned test company representatives,
and performed rigorous literature searches. Yet he found no answers.
Worse, nobody found his question in the least bit interesting
except those who reject the HIV explanation of AIDS. But even they
had no answers.
Giraldo wondered what would happen if he
evaluated patient sera that tested HIV-antibody negative when diluted
the unusually large amount as instructed. What if he treated such
sera according to normal antibody testing standards? In other words,
what if he tested officially HIV-antibody negative patients using
undiluted sera? Would the sera that were negative when diluted be
positive when undiluted? His research revealed that nobody had yet
examined such questions. So he tried it himself.
According to a technical paper he wrote
for the midwinter 1998-1999 Continuum (www.virusmyth.com), an AIDS
reappraisal magazine, Giraldo tested undiluted sera from 83 officially
HIV antibody-negative patients. To his astonishment, every one of
the undiluted sera tested positive. These findings, Giraldo says,
represent yet another fatal paradox for the HIV explanation of AIDS.
Girlaldo is an expert in internal medicine and
infectious diseases. He received his MD in his native Colombia,
and a masters degree in infectious diseases from the University
of London (RA April 1997). He is also a former biology department
chairman at a large Colombian medical school. For the last six years
he has worked in a clinical immunology laboratory at a major university
medical school in New York City. (RA will withhold the university's
name to protect Giraldo from the usual professional repercussions
experienced by those who express scientific conclusions that cast
doubt on the highly popular and financially profitable HIV explanation
Giraldo's daily responsibilities include
performing the tests used for diagnosing HIV status; namely, ELISA
and Western blots that detect antibodies that neutralize presumed
HIV proteins, and the dubious "viral load" test that detects and
amplifies trace numbers of tiny portions of the presumed HIV genome.
Giraldo has long doubted the validity of
these tests, and contested the official interpretation that positive
results indicate HIV infection. He considers it unjustified to diagnose
HIV infections using these tests.
High dilutions tipped
"The extraordinarily high dilution of the persons
serum 400 times for the ELISA and 50 times for the Western
blot took me by surprise when I first learned to administer
them," Giraldo says. "Most serologic tests that look for the presence
of antibodies against germs use undiluted serum, called 'neat,'
or 'straight.' For example, the ELISAs that look for antibodies
to hepatitis A and B, rubella, Histoplasma and Cryptococcus viruses,
and syphilis bacteria, to mention just a few, use straight serum.
"However, the ELISAs for antibodies against
some germs do require slightly diluted serum. For example, ELISAs
that look for antibodies to measles, varicella, and mumps viruses
use a dilution of 1:16, to cytomegalovirus (CMV) 1:20, and to Epstein-Barr
Virus (EBV) 1:10." Presumably, these slight dilutions improve the
accuracy of positive results in identifying people who really do
have active infections, and of negative results identifying people
who really do lack active infections.
With the HIV tests, though, no isolation
data exists to justify or explain the dilution levels.
"For years I searched the medical literature
and studied the manufacturer's documentation to find the reason
for these very high dilution requirements," Giraldo says. "I even
phoned representatives of the test manufacturers. The most confident
responses I received were that, 'The tests were standardized that
way.' That leads me to conclude that only the members of Robert
Gallo's NIH lab who devised these tests and introduced them in 1984
(Science, May 4) can answer the question: why dilute?"
"I also began to question the terms 'positive'
and 'negative' used to describe the results of antibody tests,"
he recalls. "Anyone who performs these tests for any microbe or
other antigens knows that the results are not like a light bulb,
on or off. Some people's serum reacts slightly, but not enough to
earn the 'positive' designation. And among those whose serum reacts
strongly enough to earn the 'positive' designation, some react stronger
Giraldo searched the medical literature
to find the rationale for the HIV ELISA and Western blot testing
Although isolation studies establish the
testing procedures for other viruses, Giraldo found no isolation
data at all for HIV. Nor did he find any other justification for
the mysteriously high serum dilution levels, or, for that matter,
the luminosity level used to declare a reaction positive, the array
of protein reactions that constitute a Western blot positive designation,
or the non-use of HIV antigen tests.
His studies uncovered the work of the Australian
research team led by biophysicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos. Eleopulos
has searched extensively for isolation data that justifies the HIV
tests, but has found none (RA June/July/Aug. 1997). Her work inspired
another researcher, virus isolation pioneer Etienne de Harven, to
closely examine the issue. He concurs with her (RA Nov./Dec. 1998).
"My curiosity led me to conduct an experiment
in a medical laboratory in Yorktown Heights, New York. First, I
took samples of my own blood, which, at the mysteriously stipulated
1:400 dilution, reacts negative. I then ran the exact same serum
samples through the test again, but this time at 1:1 [undiluted].
Tested straight, my sera reacted positive every time.
"Next, I tested the undiluted serum of other
subjects whose heavily diluted (as stipulated by the instructions)
serum tests HIV-negative, just like mine. I obtained the serum of
83 officially HIV-negative subjects. I confirmed that at the high
stipulated dilution level, each sample tested negative. But when
tested straight undiluted every sample tested positive,
just like mine.
"I should mention that with the exception
of my own blood, the patient samples all came from doctors who requested
HIV tests. According to my experience, this usually this means that
the patient belongs to one of the official AIDS risk groups [gay
men and drug injectors]."
Giraldo also considered the amounts of antibodies
that the test results indicated. "According to the Abbott Laboratory
documentation," he says, "the absorbance value [yellow color intensity]
develops in proportion to the amount of antibodies to HIV-1 which
are 'bound to the bead.' I noticed that the absorbance values of
the specimens that tested negative when diluted [1:400], but positive
when undiluted [1:1], had lower absorbance values than the samples
that, diluted the specified amount, react positive on both the ELISA
and Western blot tests. This probably means that the blood that
tests negative when diluted but positive when undiluted has a lower
level of antibodies than the diluted blood that tests doubly positive."
So, all people, it seems, may have some
amount of "HIV antibodies" in their blood. And therefore, to some
extent, everybody may be "HIV-positive." What could this mean?
Using the officially stipulated serum dilutions,
very few Americans test positive for antibodies that neutralize
presumed HIV proteins (RA July, 1996). Among Americans in general,
only about one in 260 test positive. That number plummets to just
one in 7,500 if risk group members are excluded. Only when the risk
group members are considered exclusively does the number become
appreciable. About half of all gays and drug injectors in large
cities test positive, as do 75% of all hemophiliacs (RA Nov. 1997).
And 10-20% of the general populations of various African countries
reportedly test positive.
The figures are even higher for risk group
members who develop any of the diseases that compose the official
AIDS definition. Among a mixture of gay men and African heterosexuals
with these diseases, 88% test positive according to Gallo's original
1984 data (Science May 4). More recently, data analyzed in 1995
by UC-Berkeley retrovirologist Peter Duesberg (Genetica 95) showed
that 82% of gay men with these diseases test positive.
With his data suggesting that perhaps all
people may have varying amounts of "HIV antibodies" in their blood,
Giraldo has a reasonable explanation for how Gallo may have established
the ELISA and Western blot HIV testing standards: they happened
to correspond with high success in identifying members of the AIDS
risk groups, especially those who have AIDS diseases, while distinguishing
them from people unlikely to belong to the risk groups or to have
By heavily diluting the serum prior to testing,
and using a particular luminosity level as official standards dictate,
positive results occur only for people who possess very high levels
of these antibodies. But undiluted serum will react positively even
for people who test negative when their serum is diluted as specified.
Giraldo hypothesizes that different people's sera would react as
positive according to different amounts of dilution. People with
large amounts of these antibodies would react positively even with
the very high dilution rates stipulated by the standard instructions.
Other people would have only enough of these antibodies to cause
a reaction if their serum was diluted some intermediate amount.
Others with very low levels of these antibodies, may produce positive
test results only if their serum is not diluted at all.
Gallo's team designed and patented these
tests in order to identify people who have, or who are likely to
have, AIDS diseases. Gallo presumed but did not prove
that these tests would also indicate infections with a common virus
that caused these diseases. Gallo's team settled on testing standards
that produced positive results in 88% (43 of 49) of his risk group
test subjects who had AIDS diseases, 79% (11 of 14) of his risk
group test subjects who had "pre-AIDS," 40% (9 of 22) of his risk
group subjects with no AIDS conditions, and less than 1% (1 of 164)
of AIDS-free test subjects who did not belong to the official risk
That means Gallo's antibody test battery
the same used today to determine "HIV status" has
some reasonable accuracy in identifying people who belong to AIDS
risk groups, especially those who have AIDS conditions. But no data
establishes any accuracy of this testing battery for identifying
people who have infections with any particular virus.
According to Giraldo, Eleopulos, and de
Harven, researchers have failed to determine a success rate for
isolating a viral species from people who test positive on the HIV
ELISA and Western blot antibody tests.
Thus, in terms of these tests being used
as they are to identify people with HIV infections, Giraldo concludes
that there is no valid justification for the high dilution levels,
for the luminosity criteria for determining positive reactions,
for favoring antibody tests over antigen tests, or for the array
of reactions that qualify a Western blot as positive.
experiments and viral load
Giraldo acknowleges that many important questions
remain unanswered. For example, he did not examine the HIV Western
blot or "viral load" tests.
"Lacking any funding to support this
research," Giraldo says, "I have only been able to examine
the HIV ELISA, and not as thoroughly as I would like. Because the
Western blot HIV tests use the same proteins as does the ELISA HIV
tests, and also requires an unusually high dilution although
only 1:50I expect the same results if I similarly examined
it. However, I have not had the opportunity to check this hypothesis.
I hope to raise the money to examine the HIV ELISA more closely,
and to examine the HIV Western blot antibody test using the same
"Also I would like to examine the HIV viral
load test," which also involves diluting, and other important paradoxes
as well (RA Oct. 1996). Chief among them: like the HIV ELISA and
Western blot tests, the viral load test accuracy has not been established
using the only valid method viral isolation.
As far as Giraldo can tell, the viral load
test was invented especially as a way of artificially demonstrating
large amounts of HIV RNA, when conventional methods accurately establish
that there is little or none present.
explanations in order
With no HIV isolates documented in the literature,
and Eleopulos as well as others having shown that AIDS distributes
epidemiologically unlike a contagious condition (Duesberg, Inventing
the AIDS Virus), Giraldo looks beyond a viral explanation to understand
positive reactions on the "HIV tests." He refers to the
work of Eleopulos. The purported HIV constituents from which the
"HIV tests" are derived seem to her to be ordinary constituents
of the human constitution. This would seem unlikely had the "HIV
material" used in the tests been extracted from HIV isolates
that is, from samples that consist entirely of virus-looking
objects determined to behave like viruses. But Eleopulos found that
all samples presented in the medical literature as "HIV isolates"
consist mostly of clearly non-viral material, mixed in with a minority
population of objects labeled as HIV. And those objects, Eleopulos
contends, fit the description of ordinary cellular "microvesicles,"
not viruses. And she finds no data that precludes any of the "HIV
isolate" material from being normal cellular constituents. The retroviral
pioneer de Harven agrees with this assessment.
It seems to Giraldo, then, that the HIV-antibody
tests indicate exposure to factors that increase the production
of antibodies that react with proteins found in samples mislabeled
"HIV isolates." These might include an array of factors identified
by Eleopulos and others as the likely causes of AIDS: the consumption
of narcotics, hemophilia treatments, transfusions and the conditions
that make them necessary, and the various aspects of Third World
He has no preliminary hypothesis for what
the "viral load" test might indicate because he has not yet examined
The experiments that he proposes would help
explain what these tests mean. One thing is already certain: the
existing data do not confirm the hypothesis that positive HIV tests
of any sort indicate infection with any species of virus. Giraldo
contends that everybody may produce some level of antibodies against
the presumed HIV proteins. But he has no reason to conclude that
anybody harbors an HIV infection, HIV positive or not