Document:Gardiner reviews War

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A Battle With Foes, Friends and Fraud
Review of The AIDS War
by Ben Gardiner

Ben Gardiner's AIDS Info BBS Database
17 June 1993


AIDSWar book.jpg

AIDS has much resembled war in that it has killed, often in terrible suffering, young men. It came upon us strangely, back in 1981. First there was mystery, and then a series of theories and remedies, followed by controversy.

For several years now, a mere handful of people have been vigorously challenging the "common knowledge" about AIDS – its cause, its principal treatment, and the discussions that have generally not been happening. Chief writer among these few has been John Lauritsen, author of Poison by Prescription and now of The AIDS War.

Lauritsen, like the retrovirologist Peter Duesberg who first enunciated a scientist's challenge to the hypothesis that AIDS is caused by a retrovirus now known as HIV, has been subjected to considerable intellectual attack often on a level as morally low as the jeering of teenagers in a public street. Evidently public perception has been dulled, because there has been little or no objection to the schoolyard tactics used defensively by powerful government and medical authorities.

In this new book, Lauritsen offers some fresh material and has added footnotes to update many of his earlier published work on AIDS. For anyone whose heart is held in thrall by doctors and our ever-lovin' government, it may be difficult reading. But for those who want to know details of the mess that has been made of AIDS research, of the spurious and sometimes false bases of many "official" positions on remedies for AIDS, this book provides the raw material and indicates further sources that could be the basis of lawsuits and even criminal proceedings against some of our most revered "AIDS authorities."

The author pulls no punches. Beginning where most of us are, he tackles psychobabble:

The "AIDS epidemic" is, among other things, an epidemic of information overload. AIDS technobabble is dumped on us every day by the media: T-cell ratios, CD-4 receptors, DNA, RNA, latency periods, tat genes, ELISA test, Western Blot test, p24 antigen test, polymerase chain reaction test, angiogenesis, nucleoside analogues, AZT, ddI, ddC, d4T, macrophages, lentiviruses, reverse transcriptase, apoptosis, and all the rest of it. Over 60,000 papers on 'AIDS' have been published to date – untold millions of words. Nearly all are the equivalent of toxic waste, which is to say, both useless and dangerous. (p. 179)

Many people will object to such criticism because, as I have myself seen in San Francisco, we tend to confuse the warm helping hand with the now-almost-brain-dead medically-educated control that sends you bills for repeating remedial activities that don't work. We have paid through the nose for what can now be seen to have been useless treatments. We have even paid to be killed.

These are charges not to be taken lightly. When they are said against someone to whom you go when in pain and in physical trouble, and who gives you comfort and hope, it rubs the wrong way. Most of us, and I am no exception, take a narrow view of things when in pain. The point, at that time, is to stop whatever causes the pain. And the doctors will do that. They have all kinds of anaesthetics and pain-killers at their disposal through your local pharmacy. They can even pick up a syringe and poke some pain-killer right into you right then and there. We license them, and they are trained, to do that.

What we do not license them to do, but what many of them have become accustomed to doing, is acting without full consideration of the ultimate consequences, and without full consideration of the root condition they are attempting to treat. This was understandable and excusable in 1981, when nobody really knew what was causing young men to wither and die. But twelve years have gone by, and every kind of remedy has been tried. We should by now have some real information what to do about AIDS.

Lauritsen's book shows, step by step with reprints of articles he wrote since 1985, how fraud has been piled on top of mistakes, how official errors have been covered up with praise and repetition, and how what little the Federal government has done about AIDS has often been useless and even damaging. The hard fact now is that we do not yet know, with true scientific certainty, what causes AIDS, and we do not yet have, beyond the band-aid effect, any remedy that works.

You would never know about this uncertainty and doubt by reading either the full-page ads in San Francisco weekly gay papers or by reading articles that appear in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or any other significant newspaper. They will all, without exception, refer to HIV as "the virus that causes AIDS." There is no proof that HIV causes AIDS.

Lauritsen, Duesberg, and even I have been faced with scorn and derision for so much as raising the question. Phrases like "It's generally known" or "the weight of evidence shows" or yet "all reputable scientists agree" are used, followed by abusive remarks and ad hominem attacks and inuendos. One of the subtle and most scurrilous of them is to mis-spell Professor Duesberg's name, making it synonymous with the name of an automobile manufacturer that begins with "d" and ends with "berg," and to tick him off as a "weirdo." I have met Professor Duesberg. He is calm, intellectually quick and eloquent, always polite and coherent.

Events at which Duesberg, and Lauritsen himself, have been vilified without justification are chronicled in this book. The lack of true response to the challenges set against the hypothesis that HIV causes AIDS is also chronicled. The fraudulent basis, including details with names and dates, for the FDA licensing of the orphan drug AZT or Retrovir, is spelled out.

Has this war been lost? Has opposition to the widely-accepted positions on HIV, AZT, and other things been squashed? By no means. On the contrary, an increasing number of people have begun to doubt those dogmas. Some say they doubted them all along, but were afraid to speak out. Professor Duesberg, after all, lost the funding for his research in retrovirus – the same field that he and Robert Gallo entered over 20 years ago and have dominated. The difference is that Robert Gallo holds power in government, apparently holds power in the process that determines whose research will be funded, despite the recent fact that he has been under investigation for fraud, and has been receiving $100,000 a year, according to newspaper accounts, as royalties on the test for antibodies to HIV that is being used all over the U.S.A.

So far, the only murders have been of people with AIDS. So far, no one has gone to jail for fraud, murder or anything like that. And "AIDS celebrities" continue to pontificate about new theories, new drug combinations and other promises of "good things" that always seem to be farther down the road, never here and now – or proven.

One can only admire the persistence with which, in the face of strong opposition, a scientist like Professor Duesberg and a writer like John Lauritsen, have repeatedly asked the same primary questions on subjects that are as elementary to AIDS as the gravity is to the question of what's up and what's down.

You can't cure something if you don't know the cause, and if you are honest you'd say so.

This book will undoubtedly be scorned, as is some of the text on display here, as irrelevant. The thinking behind this is "Don't bother me with FACTS, I'm too busy arguing the TRUTH." Believe me, as an editor, I am really sick of such idiocy, and yet I expect it is human nature to produce it.

From "safe sex" to "clean needles" to AZT, there is simply no reasonable truth in any of it. We need to discuss these things, and that's why there's stuff here on display that I personally do not agree with at all. Callers do discuss these things, and they let loose "no holds barred" with their feelings, and I think that is very healthy.

The AIDS War sets forth a complete history of the significant controversies of the AIDS years, with the possible exception of a furious word battle a few years ago about closing or not closing the baths, which got Melvyn Silverman promoted to bigtime work in AmFAR. It does not take up the paradox of those people who have gone on the lecture circuit saying they were cured of AIDS and who later drop dead, but it does take up the question of how to begin thinking health and life and stop making a career out of dying. People who want to see this in the book will, and those who persist in suffering will do just that.

Lastly, a personal note. Six men have lived here in my place with AIDS, one at a time. Five of them did more or less what the doctor said. They are all dead. The sixth looked around the clinic one day, said to himself "These guys are all dying!" and walked out. He did several kinds of unorthodox procedures and he stopped doing drugs. He's still alive, eight years later, and doing fine. Though he may think it was the weird stuff (good thoughts, cool water, a confidence-building weekend) that cured him, I tend to see it as what he quit doing that made the difference. Drugs don't bring health. They may save your life in an emergency, but they usually bring to or take from your body in ways that are not healthy.

Neither condoms nor drugs nor reverence for doctors will get you well. You are in control of your life. If not, take control. And if you need convincing, read this book.

© 1993 by Ben Gardiner
Originally published at Ben Gardiner's AIDS Info BBS Database