HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘HIV electron micrographs’


Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/01/17

It seems astonishing that hordes of virologists, immunologists, and other biological scientists should be wrong about HIV/AIDS. It is even more astonishing that HIV/AIDS researchers do experiments without caring whether the substances they are working with are pure.

Etienne de Harven, pioneer in the electron microscopy of viruses and Emeritus Professor of Pathology, University of Toronto, discussed in his address to the European Parliament [HIV HAS NEVER BEEN ISOLATED FROM AIDS PATIENTS, 15 January 2008] the failure of HIV/AIDS researchers to purify what they call “viral isolates of HIV”. Electron microscopy revealed that these “viral isolates” are motley mixtures of bits and pieces of various shapes and sizes; see “Cell membrane vesicles are a major contaminant of gradient-enriched human immunodeficiency virus type-1 preparations” (Gluschankof et al., Virology 230 [1997] 125–33); “Microvesicles are a source of contaminating cellular proteins found in purified HIV-1 preparations” (Bess et al., Virology 230 [1997] 134–44).

Phyllis Pease, emeritus in medical microbiology from the University of Birmingham, discusses in some detail the fact that “supposedly pure HIV as prepared by standard techniques for the isolation of retroviruses employed since 1970 [has been] without the benefit of essential electron microscopy controls” (p. 128, “AIDS, Cancer and Arthritis”, ISBN 0-9550567-0-5; see comprehensive review by Neville Hodgkinson at

“Viral isolates” of “HIV” are whatever happens to be in the band of density 1.16, when a source thought to contain “HIV” is ultracentrifuged in a sugar gradient. Below is a tracing of electron micrographs published by Bess et al.; for easier identification, some of the microvesicles are colored green, some of the supposed virions are in blue, and some of the motley debris is in red. The lower micrograph is of a more highly purified preparation than the upper (see Pease, p. 129), yet still shows the presence of a variety of contaminants.


Not only are these mixtures of all sorts of things: when Pease measured the purported retrovirus particles (see p. 131 in her book), she found that their sizes spanned a wide range (70-225 nanometers). Purification had increased the proportion of virus-like particles, but clearly they are not all the same, as virions of a given species would be.

The astonishing, well-nigh incredible yet inescapable conclusion is this:
The “HIV” that researchers work with is a motley mixture of various kinds of intracellular particles (vesicles) and bits of cellular debris, in which there may or may not be present some particles of a putative human immunodeficiency retrovirus, and possibly other viruses as well

This remarkable circumstance explains immediately several peculiar characteristics supposedly unique to HIV and that have made it so intractable a thing to deal with:
— No two HIV isolates are exactly the same. “Within a single HIV-1 infected human host, HIV-1 population represents a complex mixture, or swarm, of mutant virus variants, in which all viruses are genetically related yet virtually every virus is unique” (Lukashov et al., “The genetic diversity of HIV-1 and its implications for vaccine development” in AIDS Vaccine Research, ed. Wong-Staal & Gallo, chapter 3, at p. 93).
Of course! Every time researchers make a preparation of “HIV”, they are working with a different and possibly unique mixture.
— HIV is said to mutate at a rate far exceeding anything observed with other biological entities.
Not at all. Every time researchers make a preparation of “HIV”, they are working with a different and possibly unique mixture.
— Every attempt at preparing a vaccine against HIV has failed totally.
Naturally. One can’t vaccinate against motley mixtures of variable composition.

How do HIV researchers respond to the charge that their “viral isolates” are not pure HIV?

Whenever possible—which is most of the time—they simply ignore it, even since the cited articles, published in 1997. However, ignoring is not feasible if one is on the witness stand in a court of law, as Robert Gallo was (via telecommunication) at the Parenzee trial in South Australia. Here are extracts from the transcript of his testimony, which is available in full at

Once we could mass-produce this virus, that’s purification. If you have a tonne of something and you contaminate it by a drop of water, didn’t you purify it? It’s the ratio of cell protein to viral protein. Sucrose gradient gives you a little bit of help but you could do that five times and it’s not going to purify as much as we did by mass-producing it. To use the extreme hyperbole, if you have a tonne of some something and a drop of water, you’ve purified it. That’s what we did. (Emphasis added; p. 1278, lines 1–9):
. . .
We succeeded in putting six of the 48 isolates into permanent culture, meaning in a cell line, in a leukaemic cell line that, itself, doesn’t have virus particles, and the virus comes out in great quantity and forever, thus making purification already accomplished. But, of course, we also use banded virus by sucrose gradient which they make a case out of we never did. You don’t publish that. Of course we did, but it isn’t needed and wouldn’t be needed if you could mass-purify it. But, for other purposes, we did it. (Emphases added; p. 1278, lines 25–35).”

This is no inadvertent mis-statement, Gallo repeats it (Emphases added; pp. 1281, lines 21–37):

“people use great quantities of mass-produced virus which by itself is purified virus. You are not being told that either because they don’t understand it or they don’t know; I don’t know. It has gone through a far greater purification than any banding can produce. The blood test that became available to people who knew how to do it came from mass-produced virus, originally from in Frederick, Maryland. The genes now have been cloned. We started in publications in 1984 throughout 1985 which showed that each of the proteins you pick up with Western blot is coded by one of the genes of HIV or another. Therefore we know those proteins come from HIV and, when a patient’s serum reacts with them, we know that patient, untreated, will almost always get AIDS. You can’t get science any better or anything more definitive.”


Most scientists, I dare say most thinking people, would be astonished at Gallo’s assertion that if you have a large enough amount of something then it doesn’t matter what else is present. Perhaps he was aware of that when he made the disingenuous comment about “a drop of water” not being a contaminant, when the actual contaminants are an unholy mélange of things. Yet even a drop of water can ruin an experiment if that drop contains the tiniest bit of the wrong sort of substance.

Solid-state physicists had observed in the mid-1930s the phenomenon that led—but only 3 decades later—to the transistor revolution in electronics. During those 3 decades, the phenomenon could not be reproduced—because of the unknown and therefore uncontrollable presence of varying traces of impurities in amounts too small to be detected by then-available methods.

Much of my own work in electrochemistry had to do with a method known as polarography. Its discovery stemmed from a strange phenomenon whose very existence depended on the presence of impurities in amounts too small to be detected by any then-available means, something realized only some 5 decades (Bauer, “Streaming maxima in polarography”, Electroanalytical Chemistry, 8 [1975] 169-279). The sensitivity to impurities was so great in large part because polarography depends on reactions at surfaces. The tiniest amounts of impurities in a solution may accumulate at surfaces to produce tangible effects. Many processes that depend on catalysis are surface reactions. The ubiquitous enzyme reactions in biological systems are essentially catalytic surface phenomena: the reacting substance has to fit precisely onto the surface of the enzyme. Contaminants in biological systems can ruin experiments and vitiate entirely any claimed results.

It beggars belief that a scientist would ignore the relevance of possible impurities in biological research or attempt to down-play the possible significance of impurities.

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