Peter Duesberg

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Peter Duesberg

Peter H. Duesberg (born 2 December 1936) is an American molecular biologist. He is currently professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley and a member of the South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel. He was one of the original signatories to the letter establishing the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis.

On the basis of his experience with retroviruses, Duesberg has challenged the HIV/AIDS hypothesis in the pages of such journals as Cancer Research, the Lancet, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, Nature, Genetica, Journal of AIDS, AIDS Forschung, Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapeutics, the New England Journal of Medicine and Research in Immunology. He has instead proposed a chemical hypothesis of AIDS, claiming that "AIDS" diseases in America and Europe are brought on by the long-term consumption of recreational drugs and anti-HIV drugs such as AZT, while "AIDS" diseases in Africa represent long-standing diseases caused by poverty and malnutrition.



Duesberg graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Frankfurt in 1963. During the years of 1968-70, he demonstrated that the influenza virus has a segmented genome, he isolated the first carcinogenic (cancer) gene from a virus, and he mapped the genetic structure of retroviruses. In 1986, he was awarded an Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Institutes of Health, and in the same year, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences at the age of 50.

His controversial hypotheses have caused a withdrawal of financial support from traditional governmental agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. He now funds his research from charitable contributions and from the sales of his books, and he lives in Germany for part of the year.

Most recently, he has worked with biochemist David Rasnick on an aneuploidy theory of cancer, which has recently attracted considerable attention and praise, despite his heretical AIDS views. His friend and fellow molecular biologist Harvey Bialy has authored Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS, (ISBN 1556435312) a book about Duesberg's scientific life, with special emphasis on his aneuploidy theory and on the politics of modern science.

Scientific claims

Duesberg's most well-known scientific claims include the following:

  1. Disputing the importance of oncogenes and retroviruses in cancers.
  2. Proposing an aneuploidy hypothesis of cancer.
  3. Disputing the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.
  4. Proposing a chemical AIDS hypothesis.

Disputing the importance of oncogenes and retroviruses in cancer

More detail here.

Proposed aneuploidy hypothesis of cancer

More detail here.

Disputing the HIV/AIDS hypothesis

He claims that recreational and pharmaceutical drug use (especially AZT), and not HIV, are the primary causes of AIDS outside Africa. He considers that HIV is only a marker for drug use, e.g. use of Alkyl nitrites among highly promiscuous homosexuals, thus the correlation between HIV and AIDS. He claims that AIDS in Africa is mostly wrongly diagnosed (he believes that the definition of AIDS is different in Africa) and that the incidences of the breakdown of the immune system in Africa are explained by insufficient nutrition, bad drinking water and an overload of infections. Breakdown of the immune system can also be caused by exposure to an overload of foreign proteins, as in haemophilics receiving many blood donations. Since the frequency of AIDS-defining diseases is very different in different risk groups, e.g. Kaposi's sarcoma occuring 20 times more often in homosexual AIDS patients than in non-homosexual AIDS-patients, cofactors as, possibly, the use of different drugs are needed to explain these variations anyway. Peter Duesberg argues that retroviruses like HIV must be harmless to survive, because after reverse transcription from RNA to DNA, they depend on cell division to replicate (their normal mode of propagation is from mother to child).

At the 2000 Mbeki AIDS conference, it was announced that the HIV theory would get proper epidemiological testing by a panel of three or four — Helene Gayle, director of the National Center of HIV/AIDS prevention at the CDC; dissenter Harvey Bialy; and Malegapuru Makgoba, head of South Africa's Medical Research Council. Orthodox and dissenter reporting disagree on whether Duesberg was included.

Proposed chemical AIDS hypothesis

More detail here.

Jon Cohen reviews the "Duesberg Phenomenon"

In 1994, the journal Science published an eight page special news report (Science 266: 1642-1649) written by Jon Cohen, presenting the results of a 3-month investigation into some of the claims by Peter Duesberg [1].

Cohen interviewed both mainstream scientists and Duesberg and his supporters, and examined part of the AIDS literature, including papers written by Duesberg. The news report claimed "...although the Berkeley virologist raises provocative questions, few researchers find his basic contention that HIV is not the cause of AIDS persuasive. Mainstream AIDS researchers argue that Duesberg’s arguments are constructed by selective reading of the scientific literature, dismissing evidence that contradicts his theses, requiring impossibly definitive proof, and dismissing outright studies marked by inconsequential weaknesses."

Flaws in Cohen's review

The eight page editorial claimed to be a "review" of AIDS literature and interviews with the proponents of either side. However, the article failed to address most of Duesberg's central claims, for example, the validity, reliability or accuracy of HIV testing. Serge Lang claimed the editorial misrepresented many of Duesberg's claims, ignored most of the evidence he says support his claims, and then argued against positions he doesn't actually take [2].

The Science editorial failed to mention the diversity of dissenting thought. Dissident scientists like Valendar Turner state that even if Duesberg's claims were all disproved, there would still be many other scientists who did not agree HIV has been isolated or proven to cause AIDS. These scientists arguments are based on evidence not presented or considered in the Science editorial, for example [3] Science failed to present claims and evidence from anyone besides Duesberg. Lang wrote, "the article completely omitted mention of dissenters such as Bialy and Haverkos, as well as many points raised by dissenters. For example, the NIDA meeting of May [1994], the position of Harry Haverkos on nitrite inhalants, the situation in Africa, the fact that malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, and influenza, test false positive on the HIV antibodies test, were still not mentioned in the Science article."

Science also refused to allow any of Duesberg's colleagues the right to reply to many of the article's claims, although Duesberg himself was allowed a brief reply. Most importantly, the review was not peer-reviewed for accuracy and was essentially an editorial approved by mainstream AIDS scientists. The editor of Science, Daniel Koshland Jr., supported Peter Duesberg, for a very short time, in finding funding for some of Duesberg's research. Koshland was unable to convince any members of the AIDS establishment to critically examine the HIV/AIDS paradigm.


Peter Duesberg, June 1987 (photograph by John Lauritsen)

By Duesberg

  • "You can't question AIDS and remain a scientist, but you can remain a citizen." (Gerhard 1996)
  • "Epidemiology is like a bikini: what is revealed is interesting; what is concealed is crucial." (Duesberg 1991)
  • "The virus-AIDS hypothesis has become by far the most mercurial hypothesis in biology. It predicts either diarrhea or dementia or Kaposi’s sarcoma or no disease, 1, 5, 10 or 20 years after 1 or 2000 sexual contacts with an antibody-HIV-positive person with or without an AIDS disease." (Duesberg 1992)
  • "There are no slow retroviruses – only slow retrovirologists." (Farber 1992)
  • "The drugs are the poison. They are the reasons why these people get sick, not sex. Sex has been tested for three billion years of life and has not cost any life. What is new though, are the drugs that they're using for these things and the intravenous drugs that are used." (Gorman 1994)
  • "AZT is a certain killer! Who will be held responsible for the death of patients (some 180,000 now [1989] being treated with AZT) that results from AZT therapy – pharmacological homocide?" (Duesberg 1989)
  • "I [have] concluded that cancer is caused by nature's biggest and most consequential mutation (i.e., aneuploidy) rather than by the recessive genes, that are now called dominant oncogenes. Indeed, nearly all oncogenes have been introduced into transgenic mice, without causing cancer." (Mercola 2001)

About Duesberg

  • "Peter Duesberg is a man of extraordinary energy, unusual honesty, enormous sense of humour, and a rare critical sense. This critical sense often makes us look twice, then a third time, at a conclusion many of us believed to be foregone... You [Duesberg] are an extraordinary scientist, a man who makes life more interesting and pleasurable to many of us: and it is my good fortune to know you as a friend." — Robert Gallo, American virologist (Gallo 1984)
  • "I found myself thoroughly engaged and deeply moved by the saga of Peter Duesberg – evolving from a founder of cancer molecular biology to a pariah reviled by his peers... I invite you to read this fascinating book and decide for yourself whether Duesberg has a point. I took time from a busy schedule to see quickly how the saga would end, and came away enlightened by a rich body of information about issues of profound significance that cry out for resolution." — Gerald Pollack, professor of molecular bioengineering, University of Washington (Pollack 2006)
  • "I think that people like Peter Duesberg belong in jail." — Mark Wainberg, Canadian AIDS researcher (Scovill 2004)


Joe Rogan Experience #282, with Dr. Peter Duesberg & Bryan Callen, January 2013

Documents and external links




AIDS: The Good News Is HIV Doesn't Cause It (with John Yiamouyiannis) (1995)


Infectious AIDS (1995)


Inventing the AIDS Virus (1996)


AIDS: Virus or Drug Induced (editor) (1996)


Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS by Harvey Bialy (2004)


Scientific Papers

Note: Many of these papers are in the process of being transferred to the wiki. If any of the links below are dead, you can find the relevant material at one of the following two addresses:

  1. Papers at Duesberg's website
  2. Virusmyth bibliography

Other articles and writings


Note: Many of these papers are in the process of being transferred to the wiki. If any of the links below are dead, you can find the relevant material at one of the following two addresses:

  1. Papers at Duesberg's website
  2. Virusmyth bibliography




  1. Gallo, Robert, 1984. "Introduction for Peter Duesberg", Modern Trends in Human Leukemia VI, Haematology and Blood Transfusion vol.29 p.1, 1985.
  2. Duesberg, Peter H., 1989. Truth Seeker, Sept/Oct 1989.
  3. Duesberg, Peter H., 1991. "[epidemiology: inconsistencies with human immunodeficiency virus and with infectious disease]" PubMed", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 88: 1575-1579.
  4. Duesberg, Peter H., 1992. "[acquired by drug consumption and other noncontagious risk factors]" PubMed", Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 55(3): 201-77.
  5. Farber, Celia, 1992. "Fatal Distraction" Spin, June 1992.
  6. Gerhard, Susan, 1996. "Review of Inventing the AIDS Virus", San Francisco Bay Guardian, 24 April 1996.
  7. Gorman, Peter, 1994. "Interview with Peter Duesberg", High Times, December 1994.
  8. Mercola, Joseph, 2001. "What If Everything We Thought We Knew About Cancer Was Wrong?: an interview with Peter Duesberg", 21 April 2001
  9. Scovill, Robin, 2004. The Other Side of AIDS. (transcript)
  10. Pollack, Gerald, 2006. "Review of Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS", Dean's World, 11 January 2006.


This page uses content from the Peter_Duesberg article on Wikipedia, captured on 27 Feb 2006. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the AIDS Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.