Scientific controversy over the cause of AIDS

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The scientific controversy over the cause of AIDS hinges on whether HIV is the cause or merely an indicator of the disease. As early as 1987 Peter Duesberg—a member of the National Academy of Sciences and whose research speciality was and is retroviruses—called the HIV/AIDS model into question. Such scientists as Peter Duesberg, Kary B. Mullis, and Henry H. Bauer hold that those people dying from AIDS will continue to do so until the research community becomes far more honest and intelligent about the underlying mechanism causing the disease. A simple, elegant response to their question remains to be seen. So far there has only been a rhetorically-biased labeling of these scientists as AIDS "denialists"—a mere ad hominem logical fallacy. A well-narrated documentary on this controversy is "HIV=AIDS: Fact or Fraud?". Another accessible source on this controversy is the 1994 video "The Great AIDS Debate".

In September 2000 Royal Society of London held an Origin-of-AIDS debate where the two positions were a monkey virus through (1) "natural transfer" or (2) contaminated polio vaccines. All participants appear to have assumed the current HIV/AIDS model to be valid.[1]


List of scientists who were well-respected until they began questioning the HIV/AIDS model

Peter Duesberg tenured professor at UC Berkley; 1986 election to the American National Academy of Science (for his work on retroviruses)
Kary B. Mullis 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Wrote the forward to Duesberg's 1997 Inventing the AIDS Virus
Walter Gilbert 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Agrees with Duesberg, stating that the cause of AIDS is unknown
Henry H. Bauer a tenured turned retired Virginia Tech professor (specialized in chemistry and philosophy of science); written several well-received books including Sense of a Mystery and Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy (1984), Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method (1994)
Gordon Stewart Emeritus Professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow. Starting in 1987 question if AIDS would cause a pandemic

View that the cause is HIV

Dna ncifcrf gov.jpg This article/section deals with advance bioscience concepts appropriate for a student in late university and graduate school.

Koch's postulates are fulfilled by HIV as the cause of AIDS. Koch's postulates are used to prove the link between pathogenic (disease-causing) agents and disease. Koch's postulates have been variously interpreted by many scientists, and modifications have been suggested to accommodate new technologies, particularly with regard to viruses[2]. However, the basic tenets remain the same, and for more than a century Koch's postulates, have served as the litmus test for determining the cause of any epidemic disease:

Koch's Postulates

  1. Epidemiological association: the suspected cause must be strongly associated with the disease.
  2. Isolation: the suspected pathogen can be isolated - and propagated - outside the host. Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding from cultured lymphocyte
  3. Transmission pathogenesis: transfer of the suspected pathogen to an uninfected host, man or animal, produces the disease in that host.

Postulate #1, numerous studies from around the world show that virtually all AIDS patients are HIV-seropositive; that is they carry antibodies that indicate HIV infection.

Postulate #2, modern culture techniques have allowed the isolation of HIV in virtually all AIDS patients, as well as in almost all HIV-seropositive individuals with both early- and late-stage disease. In addition, the polymerase chain (PCR) and other molecular techniques have enabled researchers to document the presence of HIV genes in virtually all patients with AIDS, as well as in individuals in earlier stages of HIV disease.

Postulate #3 has been fulfilled in tragic incidents involving three laboratory workers with no other risk factors who have developed AIDS or severe immunosuppression after accidental exposure to concentrated, cloned HIV in the laboratory. In all three cases, HIV was isolated from the infected individual, sequenced and shown to be the infecting strain of virus. In another tragic incident, transmission of HIV from a Florida dentist to six patients has been documented by genetic analyses of virus isolated from both the dentist and the patients. The dentist and three of the patients developed AIDS and died, and at least one of the other patients has developed AIDS. Five of the patients had no HIV risk factors other than multiple visits to the dentist for invasive procedures [3].

Through December 1999, the CDC had received reports of 56 health care workers in the United States with documented, occupationally acquired HIV infection, of whom 25 have developed AIDS in the absence of other risk factors. The development of AIDS following known HIV seroconversion also has been repeatedly observed in pediatric and adult blood transfusion cases, in mother-to-child transmission, and in studies of hemophilia, injection-drug use and sexual transmission in which seroconversion can be documented using serial blood samples [4][5].

In a 10-year study in the Netherlands, researchers followed 11 children who had become infected with HIV as neonates by small aliquots of plasma from a single HIV-infected donor. During the 10-year period, eight of the children died of AIDS. Of the remaining three children, all showed a progressive decline in cellular immunity, and two of the three had symptoms probably related to HIV infection [6].

Koch's postulates also have been fulfilled in animal models of human AIDS. Chimpanzees experimentally infected with HIV have developed severe immunosuppression and AIDS. In severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice given a human immune system, HIV produces similar patterns of cell killing and pathogenesis as seen in people. HIV-2, a less virulent variant of HIV which causes AIDS in people, also causes an AIDS-like syndrome in baboons. More than a dozen strains of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a close cousin of HIV, cause AIDS in Asian macaques. In addition, chimeric viruses known as SHIVs, which contain an SIV backbone with various HIV genes in place of the corresponding SIV genes, cause AIDS in macaques. Further strengthening the association of these viruses with AIDS, researchers have shown that SIV/SHIVs isolated from animals with AIDS cause AIDS when transmitted to uninfected animals [7][8] [9][10][11][12].

External links

Below are various information sources both pro and con the questioning of the HIV/AIDS model

For questioning model

Against questioning model


  1. "The Politics of a Scientific Meeting: The Origin-of-AIDS Debate at the Royal Society", Brian Martin, Politics and the Life Sciences, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Sep., 2001), pp. 119-130
  2. Harden. Pubbl Stn Zool Napoli [II] 1992;14:249; O'Brien, Goedert. Curr Opin Immunol 1996;8:613
  3. O'Brien, Goedert. Curr Opin Immunol 1996;8:613; O'Brien, 1997; Ciesielski et al. Ann Intern Med 1994;121:886
  4. CDC. HIV AIDS Surveillance Report 1999;11[2]:1
  5. AIDS Knowledge Base, 1999
  6. van den Berg et al. Acta Paediatr 1994;83:17
  7. O'Neil et al. J Infect Dis 2000;182:1051
  8. Aldrovandi et al. Nature 1993;363:732
  9. Liska et al. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 1999;15:445
  10. Locher et al. Arch Pathol Lab Med 1998;22:523
  11. Hirsch et al. Virus Res 1994;32:183
  12. Joag et al. J Virol 1996;70:3189
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