Reprinted from Alternative Medicine magazine April, 2002
HIV and AIDS: Myths vs. Medicine
By Burton Goldberg
"Scientists from prestigious institutions all over
the world point out many inconsistencies and contradictions in the
HIV = AIDS theory. But a campaign of ‘intellectual intimidation
and terrorism akin to medieval book-burning’ keeps alternative
theories about the causes of AIDS from being heard.”
While Western medicine has spent $50 billion in research futilely
focusing on a virus that by itself does not cause the disease, alternative
physicians have quietly made tremendous progress in treating AIDS.
A little more than two years ago, the leader of an African nation
was universally attacked in the world press for being an "enemy
of the people," espousing a policy of "genocide"
and letting "babies die in pain."
Was this a monster supporting terrorists, experimenting with weapons
of mass destruction or waging war on minorities in his country?
No, it was Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa. His "crime"
was suggesting that his country review the safety of AIDS drugs.
Then, adding fuel to the controversy, in March 2000, President Mbeki
invited about 30 HIV-AIDS researchers to his presidential AIDS panel
in Pretoria, including two American biochemists, Peter Duesberg
and David Rasnick. These two Ph.D.s from the University of California
at Berkeley are vocal dissidents of conventional thinking about
HIV and AIDS.
It is obvious that Mbeki is no monster, but is he misinformed and
misguided to question the safety of AIDS drugs and the absolute
equation HIV = AIDS?
It was April 23, 1984, when Robert Gallo, M.D., of the National
Cancer Institute, announced that he had found the "probable
cause of AIDS." It was, he said, a new retrovirus that he named
HTLV-III (human T-cell lymphotropic virus III), which was later
renamed HIV. Gallo's evidence for this claim was not the actual
isolation of a virus, but the detection of antibodies in most but
not all AIDS patients that he and his colleagues had analyzed. (It
turned out that Luc Montagnier, M.D., of the Pasteur Institute in
Paris, had provided Gallo with sample virus evidence the previous
year, and is now given credit as the "co-discoverer of HIV.")
So great was the horror and hysteria surrounding AIDS that this
announcement was immediately greeted not as a probable hypothesis
but as fact by the media and public.
There were protests from the very outset over this leap of faith,
however, voiced by some very prominent researchers. One of them
was Kary Mullis, Ph.D., who recieved the 1993 Nobel Prize in chemistry
for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction test, a mainstay
of AIDS research technology. In 1992 he stated, "Nobody in
their right mind would jump into this thing like [Gallo et al.]
did. It had nothing to do with any well-considered science. There
were some people who had AIDS and some of them had HIV not even
all of them. So they had a correlation. So what?"
Actually, scientists from prestigious institutions all over the
world pointed out many inconsistencies and contradictions in the
"HIV = AIDS" theory. But, as Mbeki himself stated in a
letter he wrote to then-President Clinton, there was a "campaign
of intellectual intimidation and terrorism" akin to "medieval
book-burning" to keep alternative theories about the causes
of the disease from being heard.
There are two so-called AIDS tests the ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbant
assay) and the Western Blot test. Neither of these tests detect
the virus; they detect antibodies that the body can produce in response
to a number of stimuli. False HIV positives have been caused by
at least 66 documented unrelated health conditions, medications
and other factors, including food allergies, vaccinations, blood
transfusions, proteins on test filter paper and a host of other
viruses, bacteria and parasites. Note also that antibodies are not
a sign of an active infection or disease they are only a sign that
at one time our body produced an immune response to an antigen.
There were and are other cogent technical arguments against the
HIV = AIDS theory, coming from internationally renowned pathologists
and virologists. There are, for example, human populations who test
HIV positive but never develop any symptoms of AIDS. Dr. Mullis
references a United Nations study: "The World Health Organization
studied prostitutes in a little coastal African country above Liberia.
They found that 75% of the prostitutes were HIV-positive and predicted
that five years later half of them would be dead. In five years
they came back and there were no bodies to count. Still the positives
are HIV positive, according to their tests." Further, in animal
studies, there are more than 125 chimpanzees that were inoculated
with the AIDS virus more than 15 years ago who have never developed
The HIV = AIDS theory violates the fundamental standards used to
determine whether a particular organism causes a specific disease.
These rules are called "Koch's Postulates," and were established
over 100 years ago by German bacteriologist Robert Koch (pronounced
"Koke"), who determined the causes of tuberculosis, anthrax
and other diseases. These rules are 1) The suspected organism has
to be present in each and every case of the disease, and in sufficient
quantities to cause disease; 2) The agent cannot be found in other
diseases and 3) After isolation and propagation, the agent can induce
the disease when transmitted to another host.
HIV fails all three postulates: It is not present in every AIDS-like
disease; it is not found in one but in 30 distinct diseases; and
chimpanzees inoculated with HIV have consistently failed to develop
AIDS, even after as long as 15 years.
What this points to is that there are cofactors other than HIV that
are necessary to cause AIDS that HIV by itself does not cause AIDS.
Even Dr. Montagnier, the co-discoverer of HIV, stated at the Sixth
International Conference on AIDS in 1990 that he no longer believed
HIV by itself could cause AIDS without the help of one or several
cofactors. Yet all conventional medical research has focused on
killing or preventing the replication of HIV. And, as President
Mbeki observed, no vaccine has been developed and no cure has been
found, nor is one even in sight.
Some may argue that with highly active combination antiretroviral
therapy (HAART) the famous AIDS cocktail of protease-inhibiting
drugs that suppress the replication of HIV life expectancies have
dramatically increased. Isn't this proof that HIV causes AIDS? One
must ask, however, is the general delay in the onset of AIDS symptoms
following HIV infection due to these drugs, or are other factors
at work? In fact, some alternative physicians who have success treating
AIDS use anti-HIV drugs extremely judiciously both to minimize toxicity
and to avoid creating resistance and use drugs not as the primary
modality but as an adjunct to other therapies.
Jon D. Kaiser, M.D., of Marin County, California, is one such physician.
He has treated HIV infections and AIDS patients in his private practice
for 15 years. Dr. Kaiser's latest book, published in 1999, is Healing
HIV: How to Rebuild Your Immune System. Dr. Kaiser does believe
that HIV is substantially involved in AIDS, but he uses antiviral
drugs with the lightest touch possible. He practices what he calls
a comprehensive healing program, which consists of customized recommendations
from each of seven categories: 1) diet; 2) vitamins and nutritional
supplements; 3) herbs and acupuncture; 4) individualized exercise
programs; 5) stress reduction; 6) hormone balancing and 7) medical
therapies (including antiviral and anti-HIV drugs).
How successful is Kaiser's program? Kaiser boldly states that "the
progression of HIV disease in my practice is an extremely rare event."
During the past five years, he says, caring for 500 HIV-positive
patients, not one patient who came to see him with a CD4 (T cell)
count of greater than 300 cells per cubic millimeter of blood has
progressed to below that level, and not one patient who came to
him with a CD4 count of greater than 50 has become seriously ill
or died from an HIV-related illness. Dr. Kaiser says that many of
his patients "feel better now than they ever have during their
entire lives. This holds true whether they are taking antiviral
drugs or not." Most people with HIV, he says, can now hope
to live normal, healthy lives for what amounts to a normal lifespan.
How is this possible? One important thing to remember is that people
don't die of AIDS: They die of any of 30-odd conditions to which
AIDS makes them susceptible by degrading their immune systems. All
these diseases existed before the term AIDS was coined and HIV was
discovered. If someone dies who has one or more of these conditions
and is HIV positive, their death is called an AIDS fatality. However,
if someone with one or more of these conditions dies who is not
HIV positive, then that death is ascribed simply to the condition
Among HIV-positive people, the onset of AIDS and the manifestations
of the disease vary enormously but do show distinct patterns that
correlate strongly with lifestyle. Drs. Duesberg and Rasnick, for
example, claim that recreational and pharmaceutical drug use is
a common denominator for more than 95% of all American and European
AIDS patients. Further, their data shows that different drugs seem
to cause distinct AIDS-related diseases. For instance, they claim
that nitrite inhalants ("poppers," extensively used by
gay men in the '70s and '80s) cause Kaposi's sarcoma (cancerous
skin lesions only rarely seen in heterosexuals); cocaine causes
weight loss; and AZT causes immunodeficiency, lymphoma, muscle atrophy
There are doctors and researchers who believe that antiretroviral
drugs can also do more harm than good.
"I have a large population of people who have chosen not to
take any antiretrovirals," says Donald Abrams, M.D., director
of the AIDS program at San Francisco General Hospital. "They've
watched all their friends go on the antiviral bandwagon and die."
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1995
showed that one of the things that long-term AIDS survivors had
in common was that they didn't take antiretroviral drugs. Leanna
Standish, N.D., Ph.D., coeditor of AIDS and Complementary and Alternative
Medicine: Current Science and Practice, disputes this, citing improvements
in antiviral therapies since 1996. While definitely an alternative-minded
physician, she emphatically states, "Highly active combination
antiretroviral therapy has made it possible for many desperately
ill men and women with AIDS who are also HIV-seropositive [feel]
well enough to get up from their wheelchairs and sickbeds."
Whether alternative doctors use antiretroviral drugs as part of
their therapy or not, addressing drug use and the immune system
damage it causes is as important or even more important than addressing
the HIV itself. This is a fundamental difference between conventional
and alternative medicine. Conventional medicine treats the symptoms
of disease, while alternative medicine treats the patient.
The disease syndrome we now call AIDS first came to our attention
as an epidemic in the gay community. It was, in fact, originally
called GRID Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. The HIV virus was spread
through sexual contact (and also among intravenous drug users who
shared needles). Many gay men in the '70s and '80s practiced a lifestyle
that included frequent recreational drug use and multiple sex partners
with the concomitant sexually transmitted diseases and use of antibiotics.
(Semen itself is antigenic [provoking an immune-response], and when
received in quantity is immunosuppressive.) All of these factors
severely compromise the immune system, leaving individuals with
few natural resources to control infections.
AIDS in Africa, however, is an entirely different story. There,
HIV is epidemic throughout the entire population. The immunosuppressive
agents for Africans are not drugs or promiscuity but malnutrition
and the presence of bacteria and parasites, widespread because of
a lack of public health sanitary measures. Thus, HIV-positive Africans
develop AIDS at a different rate than Americans or Europeans. Duesberg
states that in Africa, one AIDS case is diagnosed for every 300
HIV positives, while in the United States the ratio is one AIDS
case for every 20 HIV positives. He ascribes American HIV positives'
15-fold greater AIDS risk to Western's medicine's reliance on toxic
Neither do Africans usually die of the same AIDS-related illnesses
as Americans and Europeans do, such as pneumocystis pneumonia. In
Africa, AIDS usually manifests as a wasting disease, consistent
with the diarrheal infections and malnutrition present there.
Thus it was that President Mbeki was not inclined to combat his
country's AIDS epidemic by meekly purchasing millions of dollars'
worth of AZT. Instead, he insisted that the basic issue for South
Africa was one of poverty, which caused malnutrition and sanitation
problems. In a meeting with President Bush in June 2001, Mbeki repeated
his assertion that "in many instances, these are diseases which
are not only caused by poverty, some of them, but also cause poverty."
I have been aware of these facts for many years. In 1994 I published
a book with Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O., You Don't Have to Die: Unraveling
the AIDS Myth. In its preface we stated, "We do not believe,
based on the evidence we have seen and which we will outline, that
HIV is a sufficient single cause of AIDS. Nor do we believe that
being HIV-positive leads inevitably to AIDS, or that AIDS is necessarily
irreversible. We do believe that enhancement and modulation of immune
function presents an opportunity for recovery of health. We sincerely
believe that this approach will be increasingly adopted as the HIV
myth is discredited, and that we will look back and wonder why billions
of dollars have been wasted in HIV-oriented research."
Currently, approximately 7,000 people worldwide die of AIDS every
day. At least their deaths are attributed to AIDS. In reality, they
had tested positive for HIV and died of any of 30 AIDS-related diseases.
Given the acknowledged unreliability of HIV testing, however, this
number could be wildly off.
Nevertheless, 7,000 people die each day of something that conventional
medical treatment couldn't help or quite possibly helped bring on.
We do have the knowledge and techniques to prevent this from happening,
but not if we stay with the bankrupt thinking that AIDS is one disease
with one cause that will be cured with one drug.
In looking for the origin of AIDS in Africa, researchers found that
large populations of apes and wild cats were infected with "AIDS-like"
viruses that had the potential to destroy their immune systems.
The animals' blood was full of these viruses, killing significant
numbers of blood cells, but they never manifested any disease symptoms.
What does this tell us about the nature of these retroviruses, which
many researchers claim could never wreak all the damage that is
ascribed to them?
HIV is simply a virus, like hundreds of other viruses we've lived
with for as long as humanity has been on the planet. Most people
have been exposed to influenza viruses, cytomegalovirus, herpes
and Epstein-Barr. It is all but impossible to eradicate these infections;
they can only be controlled. They do their damage when our immune
systems are not up to the task. Trying to cure diseases by focusing
on the development of toxic pharmaceutical drugs aimed at killing
the viruses associated with them will ultimately make us all more
vulnerable to new diseases. President Bush recently pledged an additional
$200 million in AIDS funding over the next two years. Global activists
think that the U.S. should contribute $2.5 billion. Without a paradigm
shift in the way we approach AIDS, however, this money will not
only be wasted, but could do more harm than good.