HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Is HIV to Gallo as kuru is to Gajdusek?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/07/04

The first discovered pathogenic “slow virus” thought to infect human beings was the agent responsible for the invariably fatal kuru disease that affected members of the Fore tribe in New Guinea. The discovery was credited to Carleton Gajdusek, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1976 for uncovering thereby “new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases”.
I had long known that this “discovery” had been vitiated implicitly in 1996 when Stanley Prusiner was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering that kuru and similar brain diseases (variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease of humans, mad-cow disease of cattle, scrapie of sheep) are not caused by a virus at all, slow or fast, but by misshapen proteins (prions).
Since “HIV” had been recognized as a “slow virus” on the precedent of the supposed kuru agent, after the award to Prusiner one might have expected HIV/AIDS theory to be revised. That was not the case, of course.
Only quite recently did I come to read anything detailed about Gajdusek and his kuru work, and I learned some quite significant details. For example: Despite a couple of decades of examining brains and other tissues of victims of kuru, neither Gajdusek nor anyone else had ever actually detected the agent that supposedly caused the disease. The Nobel Prize was awarded on the basis of inferences. Since kuru appeared to be confined within a single tribe, and indeed largely to relatives, behavior and lifestyle were examined for some plausible mechanism, and there appeared to be a possible association — though not 100% by any means — with cannibalism: many or most of the kuru victims might well have eaten parts of dead kuru victims.
A continuing conundrum here, in my view — conundrum for prion theory as much as for “slow virus” theory — is the postulate of transmission via cannibalism. Digestion, after all, is a typically effective means for breaking down proteins and other large organic molecules. For a long time, however, investigators of kuru ruled out toxicological or infectious causes, because hereditary transmission appeared most likely for something like kuru that appeared to run in families.

I learned about Gajdusek and kuru from Warren Anderson, The Collectors of Lost Souls: Turning Kuru Scientists into Whitemen (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). I found the book interesting and believable, in part because Anderson successfully refrains from taking sides, including about the charges of child molestation that blighted Gajdusek’s public image in his later years. Potential readers should, however, be aware that some passages in the book — thankfully few — are shrouded in sociologese that serves no perceivable purpose, e.g. “Gajdusek struggled to separate Fore and their goods, to render their persons partible and ownable, to claim the right to circulate bits of their bodies. . . .  [Others] competed . . . to control the flow of goods, to influence how persons and things were made visible and mobilized from the Fore region. . . . fetishizing Fore brains and blood, concealing or denying the social relations of these objects, then exchanging them as gifts with other scientists . . . . to make persons visible as things, and then to transact these things , still endowed with a Fore personal aura, in the agonistic exchange regimes  of mid-twentieth-century biomedical science” (p. 133, emphasis in original).

There’s more to the relation between kuru and AIDS than that both are or were supposed to be caused by a “slow virus” that defied detection, let alone isolation, as bona fide virions. There’s also the hereditary factor. Gallo’s HTLV-I and -II are also “transmitted within families and . . . stay within families for generations” (Gallo, Virus Hunting, p. 114); “HIV” is, of course, Gallo’s HTLV-III, and Gallo has never retracted his claim that “HIV” is an authentic member of the HTLV family, and that the HTLVs are “the only known specific co-factors for AIDS” (p. 248, emphasis in original). It’s perhaps pertinent, too, that Gajdusek claimed to have found genetically distinct variants of HTLV-I among another New Guinea tribe, variants that appeared to be benign unlike Gallo’s Japanese HTLV-I that “sometimes” causes adult T-cell lymphoma (Anderson, p. 219). Admittedly, “HIV” tests do not show transmission only or primarily within families, but they do demonstrate an indubitable genetic component that is race-associated (The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, especially chapters 5-7).

My guess is that prions will not remain the last word on the cause(s) of spongiform encephalopathies like kuru, scrapie, etc. My conviction is that “HIV” will not long remain the accepted cause of “AIDS”; recent discussions point increasingly to human endogenous retroviruses as explanations for what has so far been interpreted as the presence of “HIV”, “HIV antibodies”, and “HIV” RNA or DNA (Etienne de Harven, “Questioning the existence of HIV”, available as video, audio, abstract, and PowerPoint slides at the website of the 2009 Rethinking AIDS Conference.

Those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it, so it’s said, and that surely applies in medical science as much as elsewhere.


10 Responses to “Is HIV to Gallo as kuru is to Gajdusek?”

  1. mo79uk said

    It amazes me how accepted the slow-virus theory has become. It wouldn’t have surprised me if they called kuru or HIV ‘intelligent viruses’ that have the mental capacity to toy with you like villains in psychological horror flicks before they destroy you.

    Off focus, this post’s title has a poetic ring to it.

  2. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, Happy Fourth of July. So Gajdusek won his Nobel Prize based on inference. I guess that Luc Montagnier did the same. Robert Gallo(w) didn’t win one because his inferences weren’t strong enough or maybe they just didn’t like his personality. Who knows? Egas Moniz won the Nobel Prize for Prefrontal Lobotomy in 1949 without any objective evidence that the patients had a brain disease. Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize without doing anything — wow! Are Nobel Prizes worth anything? One would think that Nobel Prizes for medicine or the sciences would be relatively non-controversial — especially since they are awarded sometimes many years after their “discovery” was made. That should give it time to determine if the discovery was legit. But as we can see this isn’t always the case. Have Nobel Prizes ever been stripped from the winner when this was the case?

    • Henry Bauer said

      No Nobel has ever been withdrawn retroactively. I doubt there’s a way of doing it.
      Yes, often the award comes much later than the discovery; so it’s apparent that sometimes it takes a VERY long time for science to self-correct, because a number of Nobels turned out later to have been mis-awarded, like the ones you mention.

  3. Mario Coss said

    The idea that a misshapen protein can cause other properly shaped proteins to become misshapen, is akin to believing in magic.

    If you put a burnt piece of wood next to a non-burnt piece of wood, you don’t expect to see the unburnt piece of wood turn to ash.
    If and only if the same substance that caused the initial piece of wood to be become burnt (fire) is still present, then you COULD expect the unburnt piece of wood to burn.

    If and only if a misshaped protein still has the substance (chemical/heavy metal) lingering near it or on it, which caused it to become misshapen, then you could expect to see properly shaped proteins become misshapen when brought into contact with the substance in question, via the misshapen protein.
    But this is not demonstrable evidence of infection.

    Why don’t we hear the truth about mad cow or CJV or even Kuru? It’s a combination of the fact that researchers are NOT paid, nor are they encouraged to look after possible toxicological causes, industry never makes more money when there is a toxicity that needs to be removed vs. a virus that needs to be attacked. There’s no money in cleaning things up and placing bans on things. Huge money in attacking viruses, prions, bacteria, you name it…
    And somehow, this all gets passed on down the line and translates into a world we have today where everything is either genetic, viral, bacterial, or auto-immune. Nothing is ever toxicological, nutritional or lifestyle related.

    The medical industry always protects the chemical industry because, in a sense, the medical industry IS the chemical industry.

    Right now, Nobel Prizes seem to be used as marketing ploys, or as PR tools. It’s pathetic. Maybe next year it will be called the Nobel Prize, presented by Merck pharmaceuticals. Maybe the year after that GAP Jeans will sponsor it. Open up a medical journal today and all you see are advertisements. It’s sick.

    Science isn’t science anymore. In fact since just after WWII it changed from science to something I call “Industry Sponsored Inquiry.”

    The biggest tragedy is that people today equate education to memorization. They go to medical school and memorize protocol, drugs and symptoms to treat with those drugs. They memorize and repeat, and they think that after 4, 6, 8, 10 years of doing this, they have something called “knowledge.”

    It’s seriously a tragedy what’s going on these days.

  4. Gorky said

    Gajdusek’s work on kuru and its putative ‘lentiviral’ etiology has come in for quite well-known criticisms among AIDS dissident scientists, yonks ago and for obvious reasons, including from Duesberg himself. It is one of the shady cards in the house of cards that HIV/AIDS is built on. David Rasnick himself met up with Gajdusek in the field so to speak circa 1990 and recounts his unambiguous dismissal of Gajdusek’s work here (the article dates from ’96 and is about protease inhibitors in the main)

    Here I quote the relevant portion re kuru and Gajdusek from the article:

    “I took a break from the laboratory in the fall of 1990 to finish my AIDS novel and spend a short Peace Corps tour in the Chimbu Province of Papua New Guinea teaching science and English. My Peace Corps training was conducted in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province, where the now-famous neurological disorder “kuru” was described by the American physician Carlton Gajdusek. Gajdusek, you may recall, speculated that kuru was caused by a hypothetical “slow virus,” a novel concept that won him a Nobel Prize and provided a model and inspiration for the HIV/AIDS theory.

    “….. when I heard about Gajdusek’s scientific institute in Goroka I had to go for a visit. I learned from a local that the “kuru guru” still ran the facility, which is the size of a small community college located three or four blocks from the Goroka airport. As a fellow American scientist who happened to find himself in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, I expected Gajdusek to receive me with the enthusiasm of a long lost relative. He didn’t. I was greeted by a humorless old man who immediately escorted me through the labyrinth of hallways, passing familiar rotovaps, lyophilizers, general lab equipment and a library to what I anticipated would be his office where we could spend an enthusiastic hour or so taking about each other’s science. Instead, the antediluvian gentleman deposited me into the keeping of a very young anthropologist/health-care-worker who nevertheless enthralled me with her stories of helicoptering twice a month to a remote village where a newly discovered tribe was dying out due to extreme infant mortality. I spent less than five minutes with Gajdusek.

    “He was the first scientist I had ever come across who showed no eagerness to talk shop. It was just unnatural. It is my experience that scientists have an uncontrollable urge to talk about what they do to just about anyone who will listen. Such reticence to talk with a fellow scientist puzzled me until Peter Duesberg and Bryan Ellison explained to me that Gajdusek’s kuru work was as fraudulent as Gallo’s, premised on his own false claims that kuru victims practiced cannibalism and that kuru was infectious. His outlandish tales and “slow virus” theory were apparently accepted and even lauded not because they were supported by data or even logic, but because they permitted microbiologists to blame noninfectious diseases on harmless microbes.”

    There is more to Gajdusek and kuru and TSEs [Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies] than this though and since Bauer makes mention of prions, BSE [bovine s. e.] and TSEs, Gajdusek…

    I wrote all this below yesterday offline, before Bauer made mention of Purdey in the reply above. Anyway I put all this up here anyway (because I had already written it, dammit).

    There is a dissident theory on prion-related disease and TSEs in general including BSE and scrapie that was put forward by British organic-beef farmer and zoologist, the late Mark Purdey (who died of a brain tumour in 2006 at the age of 53). Purdey expounded on his notion that prions were the symptom of BSE/mad-cow-disease, not the cause, and that the cause was man-made chemical toxins used in treatments for cattle disease, notably phosmet being used to treat warble fly in cattle. Purdey claimed the toxins in the chemicals got into the bloodstream of the cattle and from there the toxins accumulate in the blood and get through the blood-brain barrier, the result — BSE. He wrote a book about his theories, titled ‘Animal Pharm — One man’s struggle to discover the truth about mad cow disease and variant CJD’ (parts of the book can be perused at google books). Purdey claimed cautious support on his suppositions from the findings of David Brown, a biochemist at Cambridge U who apparently did confirm that manganese does cause misfolding of enzymes. Purdey also claimed quiet support from the likes of Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh (for what it’s worth!). He also claimed that the independent work done by researchers at Auburn University in Alabama confirmed his own findings on TSEs, at least to some degree. Purdey, as the sub-title of his book makes clear, also claimed that Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) in humans is also possibly caused in certain cases by exposure to neurotoxins, as would be the case with people suffering exposure to industrial-chemical leaks and the like. He claims that several cases of the rare CJD diagnosed in small British villages were only several miles downwind of a factory that manufactured phosmet and that the exposure to a chemical leak at the factory was the cause of their illness. To Purdey this type of spongiform encephalopathy is not infectious/transmissable but like BSE is caused by exposure to specific high levels of metallic neurotoxins in the physical environment.

    BTW, Purdey used derris root powder, i.e. a natural treatment, to treat his own cows for warble fly, not phosmet, and claimed no incidence of BSE among his own herd as a result.

    Thing is Purdey had his own similar theory on kuru. He writes this for example (at his website in response to a query on kuru from a correspondent):

    “ theory can account for the cause of the kuru TSE in the Fore tribe in Papua New Guinea. As you know , this has been officially blamed upon cannibalism — but that was practised all over New Guinea, so why did Kuru only erupt in a tiny pocket of the country?

    “I was field studying out in the Far East this spring and investigated a cluster of CJD in the Fuji valley in Japan. It turned out that there was a factory in the mouth of the valley that had been producing the aluminium-manganese alloy panelling for military bomber aircraft since before World War Two. The prevailing wind had dispersed the emissions of manganese particulates all the way up the valley. It was therefore interesting that the temporal-spatial epidemiology of this CJD cluster precisely correlated with both the start-up dates and distribution of airborne pollutants of this factory . My soil/vegetation analytical data that I collected confirmed this.

    “Intriguingly, some of the Japanese bombers which were manufactured from the alloy plating produced at this factory, got shot down during WW2 over Papua New Guinea jungles where the Fore tribe lived. Kuru TSE had supposedly first erupted in these people about five plus years after the end of the Second World War.

    “So what’s the link between these Jap aeroplanes and the contamination of the Fore tribe? Well, the Fore folk had scavenged these crashed bombers and started moulding the metal panelling of the fuselages for making bowls for cooking food over open fires, to eat from, making axes, tools, etc. The acidic water of their local area caused manganese and aluminium to leach out of the metal and into their food.

    “Perhaps the eating of brain in their cannibalistic practises exacerbated the problem of manganese contamination, by enabling the manganese (which accumulates in the pituitary gland in the brain) to start bio-concentrating — a bit like DDT. But cannibalism was practised all over New Guinea at that time, so, if cannibalism is involved at all, it could have only accounted for one causal facet of Kuru; and only then if it was involved in conjunction with an additional prerequisite that was specific to the district of the Fore — e.g. manganese from the panelling of the crashed bombers.

    “The Fore were self sufficient upon their local copper-deficient ecosystem, so the manganese contaminant was able to substitute on vacant copper-protein bonds — such as the prion protein — thereby rendering their brains unable to deal with the intensive sources of low-frequency infrasonic shock in their vicinity — e.g. the bombs which they had accidentally exploded during the scavenging sessions on the crashed Japanese bomber aircraft (this is well documented), the constant earthquake tremors of that area (the Fore live over a major tectonic rift-line), the severe electric thunderstorms of that area — It’s a very ‘infrasonic intense’ environment.”

    Purdey’s website is still up here
    There is a lot there, BTW, and I recommend reading all of it.

    There is more, though — Purdey claimed he had at least some support or interest for his dissident notions on BSE and TSEs in general from . . . Gajdusek! According to Purdey, Gajdusek himself started to develop sympathetic notions or at the very least curiosity to the roles possibly played by metallic toxins in causing neurodegenerative diseases like BSE! And wait, it gets more bizarre, because Purdey suggests in his book that Gajdusek’s arrest by the FBI for peodophilia may have been a way of shutting Gajdusek up here, that Gajdusek’s writings on his ‘friendliness’ with New Guinea pubescent native boys were in the public domain for three decades and that he was only arrested (Purdey suggests the charges were trumped up) after he started to look seriously into dissident research into TSEs. Check up on the telephone interview Purdey did with Claire Gilbert. Gilbert relates:

    “I asked Purdey if he thought the arrest and firing from his research position of the distinguished, US resident, Nobel Award CJD specialist, Dr. D.C. Gajdusek, was also related to this mad cow situation. Purdey said that weeks before the arrest of Gajdusek Purdey was told by Ray Bradly of the Ministry of Agriculture that Gajdusek was seeking alternative hypotheses and specifically requested all of Purdey’s papers. They were faxed to Gajdusek.”

    Of course this is an incredible suggestion by Purdey of sinister govt forces protecting powerful corporate and industrial interests and govt complicity in that regard by any means necessary, and one must treat these suggestions of Purdey’s with skepticism and more than a pinch of salt, but it is worth making mention of if only for interest’s sake. On a similar note, from the same interview with Gilbert:

    “There’s been another ominous story going around about hay mites infecting minks. Purdey says the mite prion which infected the minks was itself affected by the chemical…”

    “I asked Purdey if it is true that both his veterinarian and his lawyer were killed in car crashes, and he confirmed this. His lawyer was run off the road by another car and died as a result of the accident. His new lawyer also had a car crash, but he survived. Purdey’s house was burned down.

    “Purdey related that the scientist, Dr. C. Bruton died in a car crash. He had just produced a paper on a new strain of CJD. Bruton was a CJD specialist. Posthumously, his work was announced to the public. It is likely or at least possible that Bruton knew more than what was in the paper, said Purdey.”

    This all seems too much, I am personally skeptical of these conspiracy-to-silence-the-dissenters-by-assassination hints from Purdey (I think these tragic deaths and horrid disasters were just unfortunate coincidences), but Purdey’s work on SE diseases needs to be looked at anew, even if one is skeptical of the cloak-and-dagger innuendos from Purdey (as I am).

    Purdey travelled the world — Iceland, Sardinia, Italy, Japan, Colorado and other out-of-the-way places — where there were high incidences of TSE clusters among animals and even people (as with kuru and CJD clusters) and he came to the conclusion (after many false starts) that so-called TSEs in both farmed livestock (BSE and scrapie included) and in the wild among animals like deer, amidst the CWD (chronic wasting disease) clusters (his work on CWD in deer is also notable and equally controversial) and the related CJD cases and other similar neurodegenerative diseases in humans are caused by exposure to a combination of common toxic denominators like copper with high levels of exposure to metals such as silver, barium, manganese and strontium associated with industrial contamination and even military activity (and Purdey even claims in combination with the exposure to high intensities of low-frequency infrasonic shock! He suggests as much of course in his remarks re kuru I quote above).

    Purdey suggested that the combination of metallic microcrystals act as nucleating agents in animal tissues, entering the brain via the olfactory or gastrointestinal tract, and bonded with various proteins like ferritin, seeding the growth of metal protein crystals such as the fibril structures seen in the diseased TSE brains. Purdey had much of his work in this regard published in the scientific literature and much of it thus accessible via pubmed.

    Purdey can thus be seen (depending on if you are sympathetic to his ideas or not) as the Duesberg of TSEs, with the added bonus or disadvantage (depending on your own POV) of hints at shady behind-the-scenes assassinations and attempted bumping off of whistle-blowers who threatened the status quo!

    Now many of you out there will notice the parallels between Purdey’s claims of specific neurotoxins as etiologies for TSEs like BSE, scrapie and CWD (and other related neurodegenerative diseases in humans) and medical dissident claims on polio, namely that polio and polio-like diseases such as Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) and AFP are likewise caused by exposure to man-made toxins (like the early lead and arsenic based pesticides — organochlorides and organophosphates in general) in the environment, and not an enterovirus, the so-called polio virus. That of course is a whole other thing… IF the dissident theory on polio (supported by many notable AIDS dissidents, of course, notably not Duesberg though) is correct then it does lend credence to Purdey’s theories on SE diseases, even as we may choose to dismiss — or not — his more radical hints at CIA type deadly intrigue, like something out of a Hollywood cloak-and-dagger thriller. In fact the film ‘The Constant Gardener’ comes to mind.

    Long comment I know, but I think the nature of this important topic deserved a fairly long exposition.

    • Henry Bauer said

      I agree, important stuff and highly informative.
      In my view, every topic should be assessed individually. Purdey (or Duesberg, or you and me) can be just about right on one subject and woefully wrong on another, even when one could plausibly allege an analogy. So more specifically, those HIV/AIDS Rethinkers who also dispute the virus nature of polio (I am not one of those) could in principle be right about one and wrong about the other (or of course right about both or wrong about both).
      I like to emphasize that to assess even one such complicated topic by considering all the important data pro and con is very time-consuming, and few people can manage it on even one matter.
      As to cloak-and-dagger conspiracy theories: someone like Mark Purdey who has courageously been openly, actively counter-mainstream for some time has ample psychological room to conclude that people are out to get him and anyone who supports him. There’s no doubt that several individuals have been out to get Peter Duesberg for quite some time, though so far they have tried only to kill his career and reputation, not actually him in person. Assassinations needn’t be the result of organized conspiracies by the BIG bad guys, they can also result from individual crazies, who might or might not have been “inspired” by the BIG bad guys; for example, several assassins of doctors who provided abortion services in the USA. Occasional perusal of blogs about HIV/AIDS turns up a few comments from people who seem fanatical enough for anything.

  5. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, Have you heard the “latest”: New Discovery Brings AIDS Breakthrough :

    “U.S. researchers discovered two powerful antibodies that neutralize more than 90 percent of all known strains of the HIV virus in the lab, new research released Thursday showed.”

    I guess they’ve got to keep those AIDS dollars coming. And how, may I ask, could they tell if they had active HIV virions if HIV has never been isolated? Oh, I guess I would be called a party pooper to point out the elephant in the room. It’s just like you’ve said before: Real science isn’t news. And it’s pretty obvious to me that this “breakthrough” isn’t real science.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Nails on the head! And should be nails in the coffin of HIV theory. The difficulty in generating a vaccine, we’ve been told for a couple of decades, is that HIV mutates so much and so fast; now, magically, just two antibodies can neutralize 90% of all those mutants!
      Prediction: This will NOT lead to a vaccine, just to more research dollars, as you say.
      Don’t recall whether I’ve quoted Erwin Chargaff before? A succesful cancer researcher, he pointed out long ago, is not someone who finds a cure but someone who gets lots of money to try to do so. Were he still with us, he would surely apply that insight to HIV/AIDS researchers as well.

  6. Dave said

    With respect to prions, Duesberg once said that 1996 was a “slow year” for science.

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