HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘human endogenous retroviruses’

Human Endogenous Retroviruses can resolve HIV/AIDS puzzles

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/09/02

Not much if anything was known about human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) at the beginning of the AIDS era. By now, a great deal has been found out, and some of it is directly relevant to various conundrums and controversies about HIV. In my opinion, a recognition of the existence and characteristics of HERVs offers the possibility of resolving differing views among AIDS Rethinkers, as to whether HIV exists or whether it exists but is harmless.
Etienne de Harven has been drawing attention for some time to the importance of HERVs in relation to HIV/AIDS, and his views are now readily available in convenient form in a recently published review, described today in this press release:


Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716
(800) 635-1196

September 2, 2010
For Immediate Release

Are HERVs an Answer to AIDS Mysteries?

Contact: Etienne de Harven, M.D., by email:, or Jane M. Orient, M.D.: (520) 323-3110.

Tucson, Ariz. Why is it so hard to isolate and purify human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)? Why has no one been able to see, by electron microscopy, a single HIV particle in the blood of AIDS patients, even those who have a “high viral load”? Why does HIV seem to mutate with startling rapidity? AIDS researchers have not been able to come up with answers to these questions.

HERVs—human endogenous retroviruses—might provide explanations that have been overlooked for 20 years, writes Professor Etienne de Harven, M.D., in the fall 2010 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons,. HERVs are present in all of us, and fragments of their DNA may be confused with HIV in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests used to estimate viral load.

The beautiful photographs of HIV published in both lay and scientific journals are embellished with special effects from computerized image reconstruction. Since they come from cell cultures, which are likely to be contaminated, the particles may be “elegant artifacts” rather than the exogenous virus—a virus of external origin—believed to cause AIDS, de Harven states.

About 8 percent of the human genome consists of sequences incorporated from retroviruses. When cells break down, DNA fragments are released into the circulation—including these viral sequences. Patients with clinical AIDS carry a large spectrum of infectious diseases, so a high level of circulating DNA is expected.

While “AIDS Rethinkers” may challenge the role of HIV in AIDS, or even its existence, they are obligated to explain the observations of clinicians and researchers. HERVs are, at a minimum, a confounding variable that needs to be investigated, de Harven notes.

Puzzles involving the interpretation of diagnostic tests for HIV, the epidemiology and transmission patterns of AIDS, and strategies for prevention and treatment cannot be solved without broadening AIDs research beyond the narrow confines accepted by the “Orthodoxers,” de Harven believes. Alternate hypotheses need to be objectively assessed, and conclusions must be based on scientific evidence rather than consensus.

The article can be downloaded free of charge from

Posted in HIV as stress, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission | Tagged: , , | 23 Comments »

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.

Posted in experts, HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission | Tagged: , , | 10 Comments »