Does HIV Exist?

Dear Christine,

Does HIV exist? I've read an number of articles ranging from highly technical and scientific to simple language that have me thinking HIV hasn't been shown to exist.

What do you think?



Dear Dave,

This is a very controversial question, even among AIDS rethinkers. I'll let Dr. Ettiene de Harven, the first scientist to isolate and produce an electron micrograph (photo) of a retrovirus, respond with expert technical information first. Dr. de Harven is Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Toronto, and achieved the above mentioned isolation while serving as a researcher at Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in New York. He is also a member of Alive & Well's Advisory Board.

Dr. de Harven writes:

"No, I do not think that HIV exists because I have never seen any acceptable scientific proof of its existence, especially in AIDS patients. All the claims to the contrary are opinions based on identification of so-called markers for HIV, all of which have been found to be non-specific to HIV. These non-specific markers include the enzyme reverse transcriptase (RT) and the antigen p24 which are commonly believed to be HIV specific but are in fact not.

"Moreover, since so-called HIV has never been purified (even according to HIV's original discoverer, Dr. Luc Montagnier), its specific RNA has never been actually identified nor sequenced. 'Viral loads' measured after PCR amplification are therefore not scientifically acceptable as the RNA or DNA they measure is only assumed to be specific genetic components of HIV, but have never been properly identified as such.

"Of course, I am quite familiar with the many reports on electron microscope (EM) pictures of 'HIV particles.' Indeed, these photos show particles which could very well be taken as retroviruses on the basis of their ultrastructure alone. But all these particles have only been found in complex cell cultures [blood added to culture dishes containing cancer cells and stimulated with various chemical agents], never in an AIDS patient.

"Even if there were an acceptable EM of an HIV isolate, it is not possible through EM to distinguish between exogenous and endogenous retroviruses [EXOGENOUS means derived or developed from external sources, having a cause external to the body; ENDOGENOUS means produced from within, originating within an organ or part]. HIV is believed to be an exogenous retrovirus, something that has yet to proved. It could very well be that these hyper-stimulated cell cultures release endogenous particles which have little, if anything, to do with the 'infection' of these cultures by an HIV positive patient's plasma or cells.

"Finally, it should be stressed that no researcher has ever succeeded in observing retroviral-looking particles in the plasma of HIV positive patients supposedly presenting with a high 'viral load' according to PCR measurements. "It is important to understand that electron microscopy is of practically no use to demonstrate the pathogenicity of HIV or other viruses, however, when the preliminary question is to find out whether a virus is present or absent, EM is probably the best method we have available, especially if appropriate methods for virus concentration and purification are used.

"The key question of whether retroviral particles are present in the blood plasma of positive patients presenting with high 'viral loadsÕ can be answered by EM research. If, in spite of adequate concentration attempts, the answer is no (actual virus particles are not present), this would carry important implications. If the answer is yes (virus particles are demonstrated to be present), then other non-EM methods would still have to be used to establish a possible pathogenic role for that virus."

With regard to your interest in knowing my thoughts, I agree with Dr. de Harven. While I am by no means an expert in EM, I have not seen any evidence that convinces me HIV has been isolated according to reasonable scientific standards. Also, if Montagnier or Gallo isolated HIV back in 1984, why hasn't the presence of virus been used as a gold standard to establish the true accuracy of HIV tests instead of the estimates, assumptions, and surrogate markers used today? If HIV can be readily isolated as so many AIDS proponents claim, why are there no validation studies of HIV tests found in the medical literature that use isolation as a gold standard? If antibody and DNA or RNA tests and co- cultures can be confirmed by HIV isolation, why are they confirmed instead by each other? And why the heck have no HIV tests ever been approved by the FDA for the purpose of diagnosing actual HIV infection if HIV infection can be confirmed by isolation?

Thank you for your question Jason, and thanks to Dr. de Harven for his expert answer.



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