Professor Duesburg: The Real Cause of AIDS

The AIDS Dilema

Peter H. Duesberg, Ph.D. is a professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

He isolated the first cancer gene through his work on retroviruses in 1970, and mapped the genetic structure of these viruses. This, and his subsequent work in the same field, resulted in his election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986. He is also the recipient of a seven-year Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Institutes of Health.

On the basis of his experience with retroviruses, Duesberg has challenged the Virus-AIDS hypothesis in the pages of such journals as: Cancer Research, Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, Nature, Journal of AIDS, AIDS Forschung, Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapeutics, New England Journal of Medicine and Research in Immunology.

He has instead proposed the hypothesis that the various American/European AIDS diseases are brought on by the long-term consumption of recreational drugs and/or AZT itself, which is prescribed to prevent or treat AIDS. See The AIDS Dilemma: Drug diseases blamed on a passenger virus. [at]


The AIDS Dilemma: drug diseases blamed on a passenger virus

by Peter Duesberg & David Rasnick

Genetica 104: 85-132. 1998

For the complete article, read: The AIDS Dilemma,

an Adobe Acrobat file (.pdf) [at]


Almost two decades of unprecedented efforts in research costing US taxpayers over $50 billion have failed to defeat Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and have failed to explain the chronology and epidemiology of AIDS in America and Europe. The failure to cure AIDS is so complete that the largest American AIDS foundation is even exploiting it for fundraising: ‘Latest AIDS statistics 0,000,000 cured. Support a cure, support AMFAR.’ The scientific basis of all these unsuccessful efforts has been the hypothesis that AIDS is caused by a sexually transmitted virus, termed Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and that this viral immunodeficiency manifests in 30 previously known microbial and non-microbial AIDS diseases.

In order to develop a hypothesis that explains AIDS we have considered ten relevant facts that American and European AIDS patients have, and do not have, in common:

  1. AIDS is not contagious. For example, not even one health care worker has contracted AIDS from over 800,000 AIDS patients in America and Europe.
  2. AIDS is highly non-random with regard to sex (86% male); sexual persuasion (over 60% homosexual); and age (85% are 25-49 years old).
  3. From its beginning in 1980, the AIDS epidemic progressed non-exponentially, just like lifestyle diseases.
  4. The epidemic is fragmented into distinct subepidemics with exclusive AIDS-defining diseases. For example, only homosexual males have Kaposi’s sarcoma.
  5. Patients do not have any one of 30 AIDS-defining diseases, nor even immunodeficiency, in common. For example, Kaposi’s sarcoma, dementia, and weight loss may occur without immunodeficiency. Thus, there is no AIDS-specific disease.
  6. AIDS patients have antibody against HIV in common only by definition-not by natural coincidence. AIDS-defining diseases of HIV-free patients are called by their old names.
  7. Recreational drug use is a common denominator for over 95% of all American and European AIDS patients, including male homosexuals.
  8. Lifetime prescriptions of inevitably toxic anti-HIV drugs, such as the DNA chain-terminator AZT, are another common denominator of AIDS patients.
  9. HIV proves to be an ideal surrogate marker for recreational and anti-HIV drug use. Since the virus is very rare (< 0.3%) in the US/European population and very hard to transmit sexually, only those who inject street drugs or, have over 1,000 typically drug-mediated sexual contacts are likely to become positive.
  10. The huge AIDS literature cannot offer even one statistically significant group of drug-free AIDS patients from America and Europe.

In view of this, we propose that the long-term consumption of recreational drugs (such as cocaine, heroin, nitrite inhalants, and amphetamines) and prescriptions of DNA chain-terminating and other anti-HIV drugs, cause all AIDS diseases in America and Europe that exceed their long-established, national backgrounds, i.e. >95%.

Chemically distinct drugs cause distinct AIDS-defining diseases; for example, nitrite inhalants cause Kaposi’s sarcoma, cocaine causes weight loss, and AZT causes immunodeficiency, lymphoma, muscle atrophy, and dementia.

The drug hypothesis predicts that AIDS:

  1. is non-contagious;
  2. is non-random, because 85% of AIDS causing drugs are used by males, particularly sexually active homosexuals between 25 and 49 years of age, and
  3. would follow the drug epidemics chronologically.

Indeed, AIDS has increased from negligible numbers in the early 1980s to about 80,000 annual cases in the early ’90s and has since declined to about 50,000 cases (US figures). In the same period, recreational drug users have increased from negligible numbers to millions by the late 1980s, and have since decreased possibly twofold. However, AIDS has declined less because since 1987 increasing numbers of mostly healthy, HIV-positive people, currently about 200,000, use anti-HIV drugs that cause AIDS and other diseases. At least 64 scientific studies, government legislation, and non-scientific reports document that recreational drugs cause AIDS and other diseases. Likewise, the AIDS literature, the drug manufacturers, and non-scientific reports confirm that anti-HIV drugs cause AIDS and other diseases in humans and animals. In sum, the AIDS dilemma could be solved by banning anti-HIV drugs, and by pointing out that drugs cause AIDS –modeled on the successful anti-smoking campaign.

An unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion.

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

(Whitehead, 1967).


AIDS FAQ by Peter Duesberg

Q1: You say that there is no real decrease in new Aids cases. On the contrary, every year their number is on the rise. How do you explain that the official statistics in Italy (as in other European countries) s ay that the new cases have diminished by 11.3 percent in 1996 and 29 percent in 1997?

A1: Inventing the AIDS Virus (IAV) proposes that AIDS is caused by drugs. The decrease in new AIDS cases in the US in the last years confirms this proposal exactly, because thus decrease corresponds exactly to a steady decline in recreational drug consumption. For example, in the US spending for recreational drugs peaked at $91 billion in 1988 and steadily dropped to $53.7 billion in 1995.

Likewise the rapid increase of AIDS in the 1980s corresponded to the emergence of the explosive epidemics of recreational drug use in the US and Europe in the 1980s (see IAV).

(Where and when would I have said “there is no real decrease in new AIDS cases”???)


Q2: You appear to think that Azt may be the cause of the disease in stead of a cure for it: how is that possible when the drug has been used since 1987 while the first cases of this strange immune syndrome were reported in 1981?

A2: Between 1981 and 1984 the Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta and many independent American and English scientists have proposed that AIDS is a lifestyle disease caused by recreational drugs. See for example an editorial in the famous New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 305, p1465) by D. Durack proposing in 1981 that “recreational drugs [are] immunosuppressive”.

Based on the lifestyle hypothesis of the early 1980s and my own research I have proposed in IAV that drugs cause AIDS. The drug hypothesis holds that AIDS is caused either by recreational drugs, or by DNA chain terminators such as AZT prescribed as anti-HIV drugs, or by a combination of both.

Indeed, I have pointed out that DNA chain terminators like AZT are muchmore toxic than recreational drugs such as cocaine and heroin. This mayhave created the erroneous impression that the many anti-HIV drugslicensed since 1987 are the only cause of AIDS.


Q3: If Azt is so toxic, how is it that the incidence of infected children has decreased from 25% to 8% (in Italy and in France) in babies born to mothers who had been treated with Azt during pregnancy?

A3: Treatment of HIV-positive, pregnant women with the DNA chain terminators has reduced the incidence of HIV in their babies from 25% to 8% in France and Italy as well as in the US. This is to be expected from a drug that was designed to kill cells including those in which HIV replicates. AZT was developed over 30 years ago to kill cells for cancer chemotherapy.

The first problem with this hypothetical triumph of anti-HIV treatment is that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. The second more serious problem that AZT induces abortion, and generates birth defects in humans and causes cancer in animals born to AZT-treated mothers. For example, a study published in 1994 found that among 104 AZT treated HIV positive women, 8 aborted spontaneously, 8 had to be aborted “therapeutically”, and 8 had babies with birth defects such as cavities in the chest, heart defects, extra fingers, misplaced ears, triangular faces, misformed spine, and albinism (Kumar et al., J. AIDS, vol. 7, p1034 (1994), cited in IAV).


Q4: According to our leading experts the new cocktail (protease + transcriptase inhibitors) seems to work or at least to keep the disease at bay. How is that possible?

A4: Contrary to the assertions of your “leading experts”, the anti-HIV drug cocktails are failing in the US. A front page article of the New York Times , showing dying AIDS patients, issued a first warning in August 1997: “Despite powerful new AIDS drugs many are still losing battle (NYT, August 22, 1997).

By September 1997 the American press already reported that “AIDS drug cocktails fail 53%” (San Francisco Examiner, September 29, 1997). In view of this I wonder what your “leading experts” do to make the cocktails “work”. Where did they publish their success stories?


Q5: Statistics in western countries show that there are fewer deaths among people with Aids. If it is not because of the new treatment, what are the reasons?

A5: The reasons why the AIDS epidemic is declining were given in A1, the answer to Q1. Recreational drug consumption has recently declined and therefore AIDS.

However, there is no evidence to support the claim that this is due to the new AIDS drug cocktails. Such evidence would have to show, that those who still get AIDS are not treated, and those who don’t get AIDS are treated. But this is not the case in the US. Practically all American AIDS patients are treated with the new drug cocktails, but they continue to die.


Q6: In your book you envisage a possibile role of the ‘poppers’ as promoters of the syndrome because of their action on the immune system. In Italy, however, only ten percent of the gay community is estimated to use poppers. How do you explain then the Aids cases among the Italian gays?

A6: Since I do not have documentation on drug use by Italian male homosexuals, I cannot answer this question directly. Please provide a reference for your assertion that only 10% use poppers.

However, drug use by American, English, Dutch, Canadian and Australian male homosexuals has been reported in the scientific literature: They use batteries of recreational drugs as sexual stimulants, including poppers (nitrite inhalants), amphetamines, ethyl chloride, cocaine, speed, heroin, in addition to a “polypharmacy” of medical drugs. Many of these, and particularly combinations of these drugs cause AIDS defining diseases – regardless of the presence of HIV.


Q7: You mention studies reporting that a Hiv-positive person needs an average of 1000 unprotected sexual intercourses to transmit the Hiv virus. How was it possible to establish such an average? Does that mean that condoms are useless to prevent the spreading of the disease?

A7: The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta were the first to publish in 1989 in the New England Journal of Medicine (see IAV) that it takes about 1,000 unprotected sexual contacts with an HIV-positive person to become positive. The CDC’s numbers are based on thousands of “discordant” hemophilia couples, in which the husband was positive from a transfusion and some of their wives became positive over time. Recent studies on homosexual couples, other heterosexual couples and singles have confirmed the CDC’s original number (see IAV).

With regard to your question about the usefulness of condoms in preventing AIDS my answer is twofold: (1) Since AIDS is caused by drugs, not by HIV, condoms do not prevent AIDS. (2) However, since many doctors prescribe DNA chain terminators such as AZT as anti-HIV drugs to healthy HIV-positives, and since DNA chain terminators cause AIDS – condoms are useful after all. They protect people who have an average of 1,000 sexual contacts with HIV-positives from infection, and thus from AIDS caused by anti-HIV medication.


Q8: You state that any microbe that kills all his hosts would end up by committing suicide. So what? Do you believe in a ‘survival finalism’ in nature, in a sort of intelligence of the virus?

A8: Life is comparable to the law: it is based on logic and precedent. There >>>>is neither a precedent for a virus that consistently kills it’s host, as is claimed for HIV, nor would it be logical for a virus to kill the host it needs for its survival.

The “intelligence of a virus” killing consistently its host, would be the same as that of a car that consistently kills its drivers because it does not have brakes.


Q9: The WHO estimates that there are 17 million healthy seropositives in the world. You say that many thousands are discovered every year in the American Army. ‘When’ and ‘how’ were they infected and ‘why’ most of them don’t get sick?

A9: HIV, like all other retroviruses in animals and humans, is perinatally transmitted from mother to child. All viruses and microbes that are perinatally transmitted in nature are harmless for the reasons stated in A8. Thus those 17 million HIV positives who are healthy, are those who do not use recreational and/or anti-HIV drugs.


Q10: The new tests (Pcr) can detect the virus not only its antibodies. How is it that many people die of Aids with no trace of Hiv in their blood? Is it hidden or non existent?

A10: Contrary to your assertion, the new PCR test does not detect “the virus”. Instead it detects a piece of the viral RNA or DNA genome, but not even the complete genome. Typically any virus, whose RNA or DNA must be detected by this method, is neutralized by antibody and is thus latent, and not infectious. It is for this reason that this very expensive method was introduced to detect “the virus” in AIDS patients. It would be much cheaper, and biologically much more relevant if infectious HIV could be detected. The difficulty in detecting infectious virus was reason for the fraud charges of the Pasteur Institute against leading AIDS researchers in the US (Gallo) and the UK (Weiss).

The PCR method was invented by Kary Mullis, who wrote the foreword for IAV, to detect a needle in a haystack. But a needle in a haystack does not cause a fatal disease. This is in fact one of the fatal flaws of the HIV-AIDS hypothesis.

The reason why “many people die of AIDS with no trace of HIV” is simple. Since AIDS is caused by drugs, HIV must not be present in AIDS patients – this is the hallmark of a passenger virus.


Q11: You say that 90% of Aids patients are still men. In Africa the ration between men and women is 1 to 1 and in Eastern Europe, i.e. Romania, is 6 to 4. Why this difference?

A11: This misrepresents what I state in IAV. I have stated that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, almost 9 out of 10 AIDS patients in America and Western Europe are males.

I did not say that they are “still men”, because I am not a prophet, I am just a scientist.

A whole chapter of IAV explains why African AIDS is different. The African AIDS epidemic has only one thing in common with the American/European AIDS epidemic – the name. African AIDS is caused by malnutrition, parasitic infection and poor sanitation. There are no risk groups in Africa, like drug addicts and homosexuals. It is for this reason that African AIDS is equally distributed between the sexes. Moreover, practically no African AIDS patients have pneumocystis pneumonia, dementia or Kaposi’s sarcoma – the signal diseases of AIDS in the US and Europe. Above all, African AIDS is diagnosed without even attempting an HIV test, which is too expensive for Africa. Thus there is no scientific evidence for the correlation between HIV and African AIDS, only guesses.


Q12: Has the blood screening reduced the number of infections among hemophiliacs?

A12: This is a good question! I assume this would be so. But surprisingly neither the US nor Europe has published how HIV- screening of blood supplies has affected the incidence of HIV in the American and European hemophiliacs. Please let me know if you have such publications.


Q13: You complain about the discrimination by the scientific community and about the grants denied by the NIH for your research on the long term effects of drugs. Has something changed after the publication of your book in the States?

A13: The non-funding of non-conformists has not changed in the US. Iassume it would be fatal for the current AIDS establishment if they were proven wrong, and that is why it will not change soon.


Q14: Is there any Italian scientist who agrees with your unorthodox views? And in Europe?

A14: There are some Italian scientists who have the same questions about the unproductive HIV hypothesis as I do. For example Dr. Fabio Franchi in Trieste and Dr Raffaele Cascone in Morlupo. Others like Prof. Leonida Santamaria and Dr. Raul Vergini (Predappio) have organized conferences in 1993 in Pavia and in 1994 in Bologna that have openly questioned the HIV-AIDS hypothesis.


Q15: Why did you write your book not in the first person but in the third one?

A15: The third person was chosen, because the book was written as a documentary, rather than a biography or a novel.


Q16: The best way I know to prove the HIV hypothesis wrong is to infect otherwise perfectly healthy people with HIV, don’t give them any treatment, and see what happens. I know this type of research has been done with animals. Since you can’t experiment on other people, why don’t you infect yourself? Maybe you can recruit some followers and have a “population” for a real experiment.

A16: I have considered, even offered, this directly. Here are the problems:

1) In the US, it is not possible to work with HIV without the approval of the National Institutes of Health and the university. Thus I would need an NIH peer-approved grant to do this. Without such a contract I would risk my lab and job.

2) In addition, if 10 years after injecting myself I would still be without symptoms, the HIV-AIDS orthodoxy would call me a bluff unless I had had a grant that allowed for appropriate controls. I have submitted 9 grant applications to study AIDS, including doing the study you mention, but none was approved.

3) In the US there are 1 million HIV-positive persons without any symptoms, and in the world there are an estimated 34 million. Monitoring a few hundred of these for AIDS and non-viral AIDS risks would be a statistically much more relevant experiment than if one person injected himself. But surprisingly such studies are not done. Why not? Guess!