Document:Psychological and Toxicological Causes

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Psychological and Toxicological Causes of "AIDS"
by John Lauritsen



Within a short time of our first meeting, I felt as though I had always known Casper Schmidt. For that matter, I can't remember exactly when or where we first met. It must have been in late 1987 or early 1988 – some time after I interviewed Peter Duesberg and was becoming known as an "AIDS dissident".

He was a brilliant man, knowledgeable in many different fields – charming and gracious, with a keen (and sometimes disconcerting) sense of humor – a loyal friend. I was very found of him and miss him.

It would appear, at first glance, that my own approach to "AIDS" is very nearly the opposite of Casper Schmidt's – for my etiological model has consistently emphasized toxicology, while his emphasized psychology. In actuality, this was not the case, for we were in solid agreement on most matters, from the toxicities of AZT to the statistical prevarications of the CDC to the psychological characteristics of AIDS activists.

We never glossed over our differences. On some issues we agreed to disagree (which didn't preclude returning to them from time to time, if only for sport). On other issues we had a meeting of minds, and one or both of us modified our positions. This was certainly the case with my own multifactorial AIDS model, which acquired a psychological component under Casper Schmidt's tutelage. And in turn, Schmidt came to acknowledge the importance of toxicities in the syndrome, especially with regard to poppers (nitrite inhalants) and AZT.

In this essay I shall briefly present my own explanation of why some gay men, beginning in the late 70s and early 80s, became sick in ways that would be diagnosed as "AIDS". [1] This will involve looking closely at the gay subculture of the 70s, with the aim of identifying relevant health risks. I'll then compare my own latest model with Schmidt's as it developed.

Why are gay men becoming sick?

This is not the place to refute the HIV/AIDS hypothesis, which has been done the point of overkill and beyond. Suffice it to say that HIV, as a biochemically inactive microbe, cannot be the cause of illness, "AIDS" or any other.

In criticism of the basic AIDS model, the question must be raised whether "AIDS" even exists as a coherent disease entity which can be rationally defined. People are undeniably sick, but are they sick with a new disease requiring its own name? It is my position that "AIDS" exists only as a phoney construct, which spuriously links 29 (at last count) old and extremely heterogeneous "AIDS-indicator diseases" together with a presumption of HIV infection. (I put "AIDS" in quotation marks to emphasize that its sole reality is that of a construct.) In almost all cases, the presumed HIV infection is nothing more than a positive reading on one or both of the unvalidated and unreliable "HIV-antibody" tests. [2]

After rejecting the hypothesis that HIV is pathogenic, as well as the hypothesis that "AIDS" exists as a coherent disease entity, one is left with the risk groups and their illnesses. I shall argue that the health risks affecting a certain subset of gay men are extremely serious, readily apparent once one is willing to look at them, and entirely sufficient to cause illnesses that earn an "AIDS" diagnosis.

Although gay men currently comprise 58% of the cumulative "AIDS" cases in the US, as a whole they are not at risk for developing "AIDS". [3] All across America are tens of millions of males who have had sex with each other, and who remain healthy.

There is nothing wrong with all-male sex, though like anything else it should be conducted in accordance with common sense and rational ethical standards. Male love is inherently good – for body and mind. In ancient Greece, the birthplace of Western Civilization, it was considered the highest form of love, practised by the leading citizens and by the gods themselves.

The ultimate source of the gay health crisis is the theological prohibition of sex between males – a taboo formulated 2,500 years ago by the Levites, the priestly class of the tribe of Judah, as part of their Holiness Code (which also includes hundreds of taboos against foods, forms of clothing, diverse sexual acts, and all kinds of other things). [4] The Levitical taboo was evaluated by the philosopher Bertrand Russell in the following terms:

Every person who has taken the trouble to study the subject knows that this law [against male-male sex] is the effect of a barbarous and ignorant superstition in favour of which no rational argument of any sort or kind can be advanced. [5]

This taboo on all-male sex – not a whit more rational than the taboo on eating pork – was carried forward by Christians and Jews alike to become an unquestioned part of the culture we live in. Over the centuries it has caused suffering and death for males who were lovers of their own kind, from the persecutions under the early Christian emperors to the Inquisitions of the middle ages to the AIDS holocaust of the present.

It is only a very small, particular subset of gay men who are getting sick, and they are getting sick for reasons that are all too obvious once the right questions are asked. Before going into greater detail, let me simply list the major health risks impinging on those gay men who are getting sick:

  • "Recreational" drugs
  • Medical drugs (especially including the nucleoside analogue drugs: AZT, ddI, ddC, d4T, etc.)
  • Repeated infections with sexually transmitted diseases, treated with antibiotics
  • Psychological factors

On the surface, it would seem that these particular health risks do not affect only gay men. However, a closer examination shows that within each of these risk categories there are elements peculiar to a subset of gay men, in terms of both intensity and specificity.

The following profile [6] fits most, if not necessarily all, gay men who have developed "AIDS": In the decade preceding their diagnosis they contracted venereal diseases many times, treated with ever stronger doses of antibiotics; they took antibiotics prophylactically, to avoid getting VD again; they drank too much; they used "recreational" drugs; they smoked heavily; they experienced terror, owing to a war waged against gay men by religious bigots; they experienced loneliness, alienation, and depression; they experienced shame and self-hatred, which, in a vicious circle, they acted out in ways that degraded themselves – and, as the epidemic developed, they experienced grief: they were in perpetual mourning, their hearts broken by the loss of their closest friends.

Following the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, and the Gay Liberation Movement, a gay sex industry mushroomed, bringing with it a lifestyle which many gay men adopted as their own: the "Gay Clone" lifestyle. Suddenly, in every area of life, men who defined themselves as "gay" differentiated themselves from the "straights". There were gay baths, sex clubs, restaurants, drugs, clothes, music, grooming styles, facial expressions, gestures, language, publications, pornography, and so on.

As a precursor to the mass sacrificial ritual described so vividly by Casper Schmidt, many gay men who "came out" in the 70s succumbed to an intense herd mentality. They became, as the world "clone" implies, extreme conformists – devotees of a religion whose dogmas and observations were still being formed. [7] To be sure, there were still gay individualists and lone wolves, but their activities and aspirations were inundated in the wave of commercialized gregariousness that followed the Stonewall Rebellion. [8]

One might have thought that gay liberation would usher in a new era of sexual freedom and happiness, but this did not happen. Sexuality itself was reduced to fleeting encounters in baths or pitch-dark back rooms. In the latter environment, sexual partners were not spoken to, or even seen, let alone confronted as complete human beings – or indeed, as complete human bodies. Some gay men never learned to make love, but instead came to define their sexual identity in terms of a bizarre and fragmentary repertoire of acts. They became adept at performing skin piercing, "tit jobs", "rimming", enemas, "golden showers", "fist fucking", "scat", and other acts they had learned from hardcord porn or S&M/leather publications. [9] Their sexuality, which should have been an expression of strength and joy, was expressed in ways that were morbid and unfulfilling.

Disco was, like the medieval Totentanz or Danse Macabre, a dance led by Death. This T-shirt design is either by or in the style of Keith Haring, who died of "AIDS"/AZT poisoning in 1990. It captures the hellishly driven character of the gay disco ritual. The utter joylessness of the experience is conveyed by the grimaces of the deaths-head dancers, hwo can find no rest from the inexorable, computer-generated beat.
An observer of the scene, whose mind was not befuddled by drugs, would have perceived that the energy displayed by a few dancers was not accompanied by any sign of genuine and spontaneous pleasure. He'd have seen that most of the men present were in a state of drug-induced stupor. And he'd have noticed the lack of human interaction – the obligatory separation of the dancers, as though they were forbidden to touch each other.

The commerical gay clone subculture was in many ways unhealthful and dehumanizing. [10] With the gay bar as the primary meeting place, many men became alcoholics. Excessively loud sound systems prevented socializing through the oldest of barroom pastimes, conversation. At gay discos, regular and prolonged exposure to pain-threshold noise posed serious health hazards (stress, immunosuppression, and premature deafness). Promiscuity led to frequent infection and re-infection with a wide spectrum of venereal diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhea, amoebiasis, chlamydia, hepatits, CMV, etc. Not only were frequent treatments with antibiotics necessary, but some men began taking them prophylactically: they would swallow a handful before going to the baths. Inadequate sleep, malnutrition, and feelings of alienation, loneliness, and low self-esteem were concomitants of the lifestyle.

The bars and other gay establishments that existed prior to Stonewall were not ideal. They were often dark, dirty, and subject to police raids. But at least they afforded gay men a place to meet each other and socialize. And the best of them had warmth. Juke boxes offered a variety of music, including such favorites as Édith Piaf, Bobby Short, Chris Conner, Billy Holliday, Frank Sinatra – and in time, rock & roll, twist, etc. The guys cruised each other, and went home together, but they also talked to each other, sometimes for hours. In contrast, from the mid-70s onwards the bars and discos played only disco – a soulless and mechanical noise – and this at high volume. In purely practical terms it is difficult to introduce one's self to someone, or converse with him, if it's necessary to shout in his ear just to be heard over the din of the disco.

Some establishments in New York City and San Francisco provided a Theatre of Depravity, which encouraged the patrons to abuse each other psychologically and physically. There were sex clubs featuring rooms in which demented beings in bath tubs waited for others to come along and use them as toilets. Some places featured slings, in which the occupants became communal semen receptacles. One "Black Party" at a popular disco club provided, for entertainment, the spectacle of a young man mutilating himself and of a pig being slaughtered. This syndrome of recreational abuse was satirized by Hot Peaches in one of their songs from the mid-70s, which, as my memory serves me, had such lines as: "Use me, abuse me... I want to be sleazy!".

I have described these things, neither to condemn nor to titillate, but to make a point, which is important: The commercial gay milieu was extremely unhealthy psychologically – apart from and in addition to the specific health risks (drugs and disease) that were teeming within it.

Inextricably bound up with the physical components of addiction are the psychological. Foremost is denial: the lies an addict tells himself and others in order to conceal, rationalize, and ultimately sustain his addiction. Denial of the role of VD and drugs in making gay men sick has insidiously undermined efforts to formulate rational treatment and prevention guidelines.

In the past decade I have spoken before hundreds of people with "AIDS" diagnoses (PWAs for short). Always I have asked if there were any to whom my risk-profile did not apply. The overwhelming audience response has been that the profile was right on target. I have encountered only a handful of exceptions. One man said he had not used drugs (other than moderate amounts of poppers and marijuana); it turned out he didn't have "AIDS", but was merely HIV-positive. The others were not speaking about themselves – to whom the profile did apply – but about friends or acquaintances they imagined were "not like that". In every case, further questioning brought out that they knew almost nothing about the other person's use of drugs, sexual history, or psychological state.

Possibly no one personally knew more PWAs than Michael Callen, one of the founders of the People With AIDS Coalition. At the time of his death, on 27 December 1993, Callen had survived over eleven years with a diagnosis of "AIDS". His good-natured skepticism enabled him to penetrate smokescreens of denial on the part of other PWAs:

I have gone to a great deal of trouble to find these people who claim to have had only one or two "unlucky" sexual contacts. I found ten of them in all, and each one ended up telling me they had been lying. I've known several people who were saying, in public, "I only had one or two contacts", "I only had one lover and we were monogamous", but then in the support group setting, they would regale us with tales of bathhouses and promiscuity and lovers on the side and drug use. [11]

When I spoke to Michael Callen not quite a year before his death, I asked him if he had ever encountered a gay male PWA who did not fit the profile of venereal diseases, antibiotics, drugs, and stress. His answer was: "No. Not in eleven years." [12]

Now, let's take a closer look at drug abuse among gay men, beginning with the premier gay drug, "poppers". Almost all gay men, but few other people, know what poppers are: little bottles containing a liquid mixture of isobutyl nitrite and other chemicals. When inhaled just before orgasm, poppers seem to enhance and prolong the sensation. Poppers facilitate anal intercourse by relaxing the muscles in the rectum and deadening the sense of pain.

The original poppers were little glass ampules enclosed in mesh, which were "popped" under the nose and inhaled. Manufactured by Burroughs-Wellcome, of AZT notoriety, they contained pharmaceutical amyl nitrite, and were intended for emergency relief of angina pectoris (heart pain). Amyl nitrite was a controlled substance until 1960, when the prescription requirement was eliminated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). From 1961 to 1969, a few gay men, primarily those into S&M (sadomasochism), began using amyl nitrite as a "recreational" drug. The prescription requirement was reinstated by the FDA in 1969.

Rush® brand nitrite inhalant: "NEVER FAKE IT!"

In 1970, a new industry stepped into the breach, marketing brands of butyl and isobutyl nitrite. One of the most brilliant advertising campaigns of all time commenced. Within only a few years, hundreds of thousands of men were persuaded that poppers were an integral part of their own "gay identity". The ads conveyed the message that nothing could be butcher or sexier than to inhale noxious chemical fumes. Bulging muscles were linked to a drug that is indisputably hazardous to the health.

At its peak, the poppers industry was the biggest money-maker in the gay business world, grossing upwards of $50 million per year. Gay publications were delighted with the revenues they received from running full-page, four-color ads for the various brands of poppers. In a 1983 letter to the Advocate, poppers manufacturer Joseph F. Miller, President of Great Lakes Products, Inc., boasted he was the "largest advertiser in the Gay press".

By 1974 the poppers craze was in full swing, and by 1977 poppers were in every corner of gay life. At gay discotheques, men could be seen shuffling around in a daze, holding popper bottles under the nose. At gay gathering places – bars, baths, leather clubs – the miasma of volatile nitrites was taken for granted. Some gay men became so addicted to poppers that they were never without their little bottle, from which they snorted nitrite fumes around the clock.

Gay comic strip "Poppers", featuring blond poppers-loving Billy. ("Poppers: The Collected Cartoons of Jerry Mills", Gay Comix No. 9. Winter 1986-87. (Mills died of "AIDS".) Front cover.))

For gay men who came out in the 70s, poppers appeared to be as much a part of the gay clone lifestyle as mustaches or flannel shirts. The brilliant red and yellow label of one brand, Rush®, was so distinctive that a successful gay political candidate in San Francisco used the color scheme on his campaign posters. Accessories were marketed: for leather queans, there were little metal inhalers on leather thongs. One magazine had a comic strip entitled "Poppers"; its hero, Billy, was a child-like but sexy blond, whose two main loves in life were sex and poppers.

In 1981 Hank Wilson in San Francisco noticed that many of his popper-using friends were developing swollen lymph nodes. After reading medical literature on the nitrite inhalants, which was extensive even then, he founded the Committee to Monitor the Cumulative Effects of Poppers. I began collaborating with Wilson in 1983, and in 1986 we published a book together. [13]

Poppers are hazardous to the health in many different ways: They damage the immune system. They cause anemia (both Heinz both hemolytic anemia and methemoglobinemia). They damage the lungs. Poppers are strongly mutagenic (that is, they cause cellular mutations), and they have the potential to cause cancer by producing deadly N-nitroso compounds. Poppers can cause serious skin burns and death or brain damage from cardiovascular collapse or stroke. Poppers have been used successfully to commit suicide (by drinking) and murder. (The victim was gagged with a sock soaked with poppers.)

There are strong epidemiological links between the use of poppers and the development of AIDS, especially Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). [14] In AIDS cases, KS is found almost entirely among gay men who used poppers, not among members of other "risk groups". A six-fold decrease in the incidence of KS over the past five years parallels a sharp decline in the use of poppers. [15]

Many drugs other than poppers were a familiar part of the gay scene. Studies conducted by the CDC in 1981 and 1982 showed extremely heavy us of non-injected drugs among gay men with "AIDS", with 17% of the sample having used intravenous drugs as well. [16] A squeamishness regarding the use of needles may be one difference between fast-lane gay men and their straight counterparts. W. J. Wallace, manager of The Mineshaft, stated in 1984: "I really don't know anybody who's had AIDS who hasn't used drugs." He later expanded on this statement in a letter to the New York Native:

At the time of that interview, poppers was not included as one of the drugs we were discussing. We were talking about the use of downers and uppers, ethel chloride, THC, MDA, black beauties, LSD, microdots, and other homemade concoctions and black market (often outdated) pharmaceutical items, which are far more common to the gay lifestyle tha intravenous drugs. Many gay men are appalled at the thought of sticking a needle in their arms, but think nothing of popping the pillthat is the "in" high. Why more attention in research and public warnings has not been paid to these "little goodies", I do not know. Example: Why does the Safe Sex Poster we are requested to hang under glass in our club fail to warn people against drug usage? Strange, isn't it? — W. J. Wallace, Manager, The Mineshaft [17]

In his pre-AIDS novel, Faggots, Larry Kramer provides a list of the favorite drugs of the Fire Island set:

MDA, MDM, THC, PCP, STP, DMT, LDK, WDW, Coke, Window Pane, Blotter, Orange Sunshine, Sweet Pea, Sky Blue, Christmas Tree, Mescalin, Dust, Benzedrine, Dexedrine, Dexamyl, Desoxyn, Strychnine, Ionamin, Ritalin, Desbutal, Opitol, Glue, Ethyl Chloride, Nitrous Oxide, Crystal Methedrine, Clogidal, Nesperan, Tytch, Nestex, Black Beauty, Certyn, Preludin with B-12, Zayl ... Quaalude, Tuinal, Nembutal, Seconal, Amytal, Phenobarb, Elavil, Valium, Librium, Darvon, Mandrax, Desnobarb, Opium, Stidyl, Halidax, Calcifyn, Optimil, Drayl ... Magic ... grasses: Mexican, Jamaican, Colombian, Thai, Pakistani, Lower Urdu ... Moroccan Hash, Red Lebanese, Black Afghani, Hawaiian, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bridgeport Blunder, Mantanuska Thunderfuck, Wildbush, Black African, American First. [p. 236]

Apparently Kramer didn't think poppers even counted as drugs, as they are conspicuously absent from his list.

An article on gay drug abuse by George De Stefano provides a vignette of a disco devotee:

Fred is highly agitated, seemingly ont he verge of tears. Stoned when he arrived at the club several hours earlier, he has misplaced a stash of several hundred dollars worth of "disco drugs" – MDA, Ecstacy, speed, coke. Did he lose it in the taxi on the way to The Saint? Did it fall out when he reached into his pocket for the cab fare? He's gone through his coat and gym bag, which he retrieved from his locker, and he has thoroughly searched the locker room. "I can't believe I lost my drugs", Fred wails, "This is the second time this month!" The only intoxicant he's got left is the ethyl chloride-soaked rag he's been sucking on while dancing. After uttering more lamentations over his loss, he wads the rag into his mouth and heads back to the dance floor. Fred is a successful psychiatrist with a predominantly gay practice. He has, however, lost a shockingly high number of clients to AIDS. [18]

Tribal Rites, a collection of reminiscences of the gay disco scene in San Francisco, makes it apparent that drugs were very bit as important there as in New York. [19] One difference between the two cities is that sexual activity took place in the New York dance clubs, but not those in San Francisco. People went to the latter only to dance – and do drugs. Though some of the voices in Tribal Rites recall their disco experiences as the happiest of their life, they are saddened that by 1987 many of the important disco people – producers, performers, and DJs – had already died of "AIDS". To the disco aficionados, a night at the Trocadero or Dreamland was more than a form of entertainment; it was, in their words, a "religious experience". They still do not realize that their "church" was a death cult.

Group activity was the essence of the gay disco ritual. If something was done, everybody did it. At a disco like The Saint, several thousand gay men would be on the same drug at the same time. An hour or so later, word would get around that it was "Special K time", and everybody would go on that. And still other drugs would be taken in their appointed time.

This is the kind of drug abuse that took place among fast-lane gay men in the 70s and 80s, just before the appearance of "AIDS". The existing medical literature is hopelessly inadequate to evaluate the consequences of such prodigious chemical intake. No one (except perhaps for a few underground chemists) even knows what many of the drugs were. (A special acid was prepared only once for the opening of The Saint.) There is precious little literature on the long-term consequences of any of the "gay drugs". And there would be no way that the drug-interaction effects of the drugs could be studied, given the custom of taking a half dozen different drugs in the course of an evening. Is it likely that any researcher will conduct a study to evaluate the long-term toxicities of poppers, MDA, quaaludes, LSD, alcohol, cocaine and Special K in combination? The only thing of which we can be sure is that this kind of drug abuse is very bad for the health.

Now let's move on to examine venereal diseases and antibiotics as risk factors. Early studies of gay men with "AIDS" indicated that the patients, on the average, had been extremely promiscuous. [20] A typical medical history would include dozens of cases of VD in the decade before the "AIDS" diagnosis. Each case of VD would be treated with stronger and stronger doses of antibiotics. Some doctors gave their gay patients open prescriptions for antibiotics, advising them to swallow a few before going to the baths. One popular bath house in New York (now closed) sold black market tetracycline on the second floor, along with all kinds of street drugs.

In the early days of the epidemic, one etiological hypothesis was "immunological overload". The idea was that under repeated and multiple cases of infectious diseases – hepatitis, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, etc. – the immune system was battered down until it collapsed irreversibly. There is no doubt an element of truth in the hypothesis. Diseases take their toll on the body, and no rational person woudl allow himself to contract VD all the time. However, there is a blind spot, especially among physicians, regarding the role of medical treatments in making people sick.

Antibiotics first came into clinical use in the 1940s, which means that human beings and all other animal species have experienced them for no more than half a century, out of millions of years of evolution. By the time it is possible fully to evaluate the long-term consequences of antibiotics, it may be too late. Almost every physician I have spoken to has put forward the Pollyanna platitude that antibiotics merely assist the body in fighting infection. In fact, some antibiotics, like Chloromycetin, can have very serious side effects. [21]

Experimental pathologist Marc Lappé makes the case [22] that the misuse of antiobiotics poses a grave threat to all of us:

By making our own bodies the battlegrounds for chemical control of bacteria, we disrupt the natural ecological balance of the microorganisms that maintain the homeostasis of our internal and external surfaces.... Overuse of antiobiotics like penicillin may have participated in creating the soil for epidemics of antiobiotic-resistant bacteria, and perhaps even AIDS.

If antiobiotics represent a threat to ordinary people, then they must represent an immeasurably greater threat to the health of those gay men who took massive doses of them for years. One PWA told me that, from the time he was prescribed tetracycline for acne at the age of 14, there had never been a day in his life when he was not on antibiotics.

Yeast or fungal infections are an expected consequence of treatment with broad-spectrum antiobiotics like tetracycline, which destroy the friendly bacteria that normally keep such funguses as Candida albicans in check. Since "candidiasis of bronchi, trachea, or lungs" and "candidiasis of esophagus" are two of the "AIDS-indicator diseases", and since antibiotics cause candidiasis, it logically follows that antibiotics can cause "AIDS" (provided, of course, that HIV be either detected or presumed). In addition to candidiasis, other fungal infections that qualify as AIDS-indicator diseases include cryptococcosis, coccidioidomycosis, and histoplasmosis. Some researchers also consider pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and toxoplasmosis to be fungal diseases.

Systemic infection with Candida albicans can cause a "yeast syndrome", which weakens the health in general and the immune system in particular. One authority on candidiasis had this to say in 1982:

Candida albicans seems to be at least one agent capable of at least a depressing, and perhaps a destructive effect on the immune system. Until the cause of the AIDS problem is uncovered, any approach would seem to be worth considering in a situation of such urgency. [23]

In addition to antibiotics, many gay men in the 70s and 80s were treated for amebiasis with toxic anti-parasite drugs such as Flagyl, a carcinogen, and diiodohydroxyquin (brand name Diodoquin), which is closely related to a drug that causes nerve damage resulting in paralysis, blindness, and death. [24]

Psychological factors also play a role in making gay men sick, as Casper Schmidt and Ian Young have eloquently argued. A sacrificial ritual was indeed taking place – and the sites for the ritual were such places as The Saint, The Mineshaft, The Toilet, Trocadero, Flamingo – everywhere that gay men took poison communion or flagellated themselves physically and psychologically.

The bottom line is that there were abundant health risks in the lives of those gay men who developed "AIDS", and it would have been amazing if any of them had remained healthy.

Casper Schmidt's model revisited

"The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS" was the first major critique of the orthodox AIDS paradigm. Considering that the essay was written in 1984, before the "AIDS Virus" had been baptized as the "Human Immunodeficiency Virus" (HIV), it stands up remarkably well. Every time I re-read it I am impressed by the grand depiction of historical circumstances, the wealth of anthropological and psychological analogies, the keen insights, and the unique combination of irony and compassion.

Future historians will have to grapple with the question of how the US Public Health Service and the medical establishments of the entire world could have gone so disastrously wrong. How could people of the late 20th century ever have believed anything so manifestly preposterous as the now-prevailing AIDS myths? I believe that they will find answers to at least the psychosocial aspects of these questions in Casper Schmidt's early essay.

The AIDS phenomenon changed very rapidly and dramatically after 1984. Initially Schmidt and I disagreed on whether "AIDS" really existed as a disease entity, or whether (as I argued) it was merely a construct. Our disagreement on this issue shrank as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) expanded its surveillance definition of "AIDS" again and again. In 1984 most "AIDS" diagnoses were based on a diagnosis of Kaposi's sarcoma (an affliction of the blood vessels) or pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (a lung disease caused by the overgrowth of a ubiquitous microbe) along with a presumption of "immune deficiency" and a presumption of retroviral infection. When the CDC expanded the list of "AIDS-indicator diseases" in 1987, it caused an immediate boost of new AIDS cases by approximately one-third. Using the pre-1987 definition, the incidence of new "AIDS" cases peaked in 1988, but with the net cast ever wider, incidence continued to least for a few years. In early 1992 still more "AIDS-indicator diseases" were added to the list, bringing the total to 29, and reducing the AIDS-construct to utter absurdity. In 1982, someone who earned an "AIDS" diagnosis was very close to death; after 1992 someone could acquire an "AIDS" diagnosis without even being sick. [25]

I can still remember Schmidt's contempt for the CDC's tactics in adding cervical cancer to the list in 1992. As might be expected, the revision caused an immediate rise in "AIDS" diagnoses among women, enabling the CDC to issue press releases proclaiming that AIDS was spreading fastest among heterosexual women.

Another change in the AIDs phenomenon since 1984 has been the phenomenal growth of the multi-billion dollar AIDS industry, which comprises pharmaceutical companies, condom manufacturers, the latex industry, AIDS organisations of every imaginable description, viatical settlement companies (which purchase the life insurance policies of terminally sick people), biotechnology, retrovirology, hospitals, counsellors, social workers, and much more. Once tens of billions of dollars had been invested in the HIV-Causes-AIDS hypothesis, it was no longer something that could lightly be discarded, no matter how flimsy it was and is when judged by standards of logic and evidence.

Warning label of AZT. Reads: "TOXIC: Toxic by inhalant, in contact with skin, and if swallowed. Target organ(s): Blood bone marrow [the source of new blood cells, including lymphocytes]. If you feel unwell, seek medical advice (show the label where possible). Wear suitable protective clothing." The label shows a skull and crossbones symbol, indicating a deadly poison. The amount reads: "100 mg", which is roughly 15 times less than the typical daily dose during the era of AZT monotherapy, and still at least 3 times less than the typical daily dose today in so-called "HAART" [Highly Active AntiRetroviral Therapy].

Still another change in the AIDS phenomenon concerns the emergence of iatrogenic "AIDS" – that is, "AIDS" caused by the administration of AZT and other nucleoside analogue drugs to people who are HIV-antibody positive but objectively healthy. Since AZT can directly cause several of the "AIDS-indicator diseases", and can probably contribute indirectly to most of the others, it logically follows that AZT can cause "AIDS". [26]

Schmidt was horrified by the mass administration of AZT (a failed cancer chemotherapy drug, designed to kill growing cells through the termination of DNA synthesis), and he forcefully spoke out against it on many occasions. One evening in New York City, as he and I were leaving a meeting of the ACT UP Treatment & Data Committee, he told me that he finally understood the psychology of these "AIDS activists". "They know that AZT is poison", he said, "they know that it's poison, and they want it because it's poison!"

The psychological factors making gay men sick increased greatly since 19084, as discussed in the other essays of this book [The AIDS Cult]. Gay men were programmed by the AIDS Establishment to become sick; they were provided with a schedule, told not only that they ought to become sick, but exactly how and when to become sick.

Over the centuries gay men have been outcasts in societies governed by Judeo-Christian morality. The companionship of their own kind made it easier to bear this onus. Against a hostile world they found solace in each other's arms. AIDS propaganda changed this: it killed love. The deepest relationship in life became fraught with fear and suspicion, and the fellowship of gay men increasingly become one of mutual support for victimhood.

It would be fallacious to counterpose psychological and toxicological explanations for why gay men are becoming sick; the two go together. It is impossible to understand substance abuse without taking into account the concomitant social and psychological issues, regardless of how toxic and addictive the substance in question may be. At the same time, extreme psychological states can cause chemical changes in the body, as discussed by Casper Schmidt in his interview with Ian Young, and can cause behavioral changes with health implications.

Mind and Body form a unity, which cannot be disregarded in understanding the causes of "AIDS" and other illnesses. In 1993 I wrote a program for recovery from "AIDS", based on my own analysis of the health risks I have described above, as well as the practical examples of those who are returning to health after receiving "AIDS" diagnoses. [27] In a nutshell, I said that a PWA should ruthlessly identify all health risks in his life and then take appropriate action. Body and mind should be detoxified, the body should be allowed to heal itself, the PWA should expect a return to health, and so on. I have become less optimistic since then, as the realization has sunk in that some gay men have long ago said no to life, an orientation not easily reversed.

Casper Schmidt's depiction of gay men as "willing sacrifical victims" is one I have observed in person more than once, an uncanny experience. An HIV-positive person in his thirties will be speaking to me. He seems to grasp my arguments, and then suddenly a meek and stubborn fatalism takes over – he dons the mantle of AIDS – his aura becomes fey, bleak and withdrawn. Communication is over, and anger will flare up at any attempt to awaken him from his trance. He will not be dissuaded from proceeding with his cohort to the sacrifical altar – which in practical terms means taking the latest drug "cocktail" being touted by the AIDS Establishment.

Alcoholics Anonymous literature describes alcoholism as "a three-fold disease: mental, physical, and spiritual". The same applies to many PWAs, who are suffering as much from soul-sickness as from immune deficiency. For them, recovery may very well require a total transformation of attitudes and philosophy: a miracle. Medical people don't like to hear talk like this, but it is true. All the medical technology in the world cannot help someone who has lost the desire to live. Nor is there any pharmaceutical quick fix for a person whose life is in shambles and whose behavior is self-destructive.

The AIDS organizations, including such pseudo-radical groups as ACT UP, are always demanding a "cure" for AIDS. By "cure" they mean a new, high-tech drug that will attack HIV. This understandable, but misguided.

What people living with an "HIV-positive" or "AIDS" diagnosis need, is not a new drug, but a counsellor with a clear mind and a warm heart. They need someone who will treat them as a whole person, not as a patient labelled with particular diagnoses. They need a friend, who will help them put their lives in order, and who will guide them back to the path of good health.

References and footnotes

  1.   My most comprehensive model is "The Risk-AIDS Hypothesis", one of the key chapters of my book, The AIDS War. In addition to discussing the causes of AIDS-illnesses in gay men (the basis of much of the present essay), this chapter deals at length with the other "risk groups": intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs, transfusion cases, and inhabitants of Africa.
  2.   See Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, Valendar F. Turner, and John M. Papadimitriou, "Is a Western Blot Proof of HIV Infection?", Bio/Technology, June 1993, pp. 691-707.
  3.   By the end of 1995, "AIDS" diagnoses had been given to over half a million (506,538) American adults and adolescents, of whom 58% were gay men. The 58% can be broken down into those who had used IV drugs (7%) and those who had not used IV drugs (51%). CDC Surveillance Report – Year-end 1995 Edition, Vol. 7, No. 2
  4.   Leviticus 020:013 King James Version: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
  5.   World League for Sexual Reform, Proceedings of 1929 London Congress. Cited in: John Lauritsen and David Thorstad, The Early Homosexual Rights Movement (1864-1935), New York 1974; Second, revised edition, Ojai, California, 1995.
  6.   I have developed this profile from my own interviews with many dozens of gay men with "AIDS"; from direct observation; from survey research (however inadequate); from discussions with leaders in the People With AIDS Coalition and its predecessor, Gay Men With AIDS, Positively Healthy, HEAL, and Continuum; and from the reminiscences of those who observed "the scene".
  7.   Observers in London have told me that, for the first few years of the AIDS epidemic, virtually all of the victims were "Scene Queans" (that is, gay men whose lives revolved around the gay discos and other aspects of the "gay scene").
  8.   Changes wrought by gay liberation are described in Ian Young's book, The Stonewall Experiment: A Gay Psychohistory, London and New York, 1995.
  9.   "Fist fucking" consists of inserting a hand into someone's rectum. The practice is extremely dangerous, and a number of people die from it every year, though the cause of death is almost always covered up. In one of the early studies of gay men with "AIDS", a third of the sample admitted to having been fist fucked. Those who get fist fucked are heavily reliant upon drugs – especially poppers, which relax the sphincter muscle and deaden the sense of pain.
  10.   At some level of consciousness the interior decorators of the gay establishments apprehended the morbidity of these places. Eric Bernard, an interior decorator who died of "AIDS", pioneered the concept of the all-black interior. The idea took hold in the gay community, and by the late 70s (a few years before the first cases of "AIDS" began to appear) an all-black interior was a strong indicator of a gay establishment, whether bar, bathhouse, porn theatre, sex shop, club, or discotheque. Walls, ceilings, and everything else would be black, the color of death.
  11.   Celia Farber, interview with Michael Callen, "AIDS: Words from the Front", Spin magazine, June 1988.
  12.   Telephone conversation, 21 January 1993.
  13.   John Lauritsen and Hank Wilson, Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS, New York, 1986.
  14.   A blood vessel abnormality. It is now known that Kaposi's sarcoma, despite its name, is not a cancer.
  15.   The argument that the volatile nitrites cause KS among gay men is powerful from the standpoint of epidemiology (the strong correlation between nitrite inhalant usage and KS) and also from the standpoint of biochemistry: poppers are a potent mutagen and affect the blood vessels. It is suggestive, to say the least, that many gay men who used poppers developed KS of the upper lips, nose, and lungs – the route of poppers inhalation.
  16.   The studies are described in Chapter I: "CDC's Tables Obscure AIDS-Drugs Connection", in The AIDS War.
  17.   W. J. Wallace, "The Mineshaft and Poppers", letter to the New York Native, 26 August-1 September 1985.
  18.   George De Stefano, "Gay Drug Abuse: Owning Up to a Serious Problem", The Advocate, 24 June 1986.
  19.   David Diebold, Tribal Rites: A Forum on the San Francisco Dance Music Phenomenon 1977-1987, San Francisco, 1987.
  20.   See, for example, Harold Jaffe et al., "National Case-Control Study of Kaposi's Sarcoma and Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia in Homosexual Men: Part 1, Epidemiological Results", Annals of Internal Medicine, August 1983. A typical government study, this is far below the standards of professional survey research; it contains some useful information, but ridiculous conclusions. I have critiqued it briefly in Chapter XIV: "Incompetence in AIDS Epidemiology" in Poison by Prescription: The AZT Story.
  21.   For background on dangerous antibiotics and other drugs, read Morton Mintz, By Prescription Only (A report on the United States Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and others in connection with the irrational and massive use of prescription drugs that may be worthless, injurious, or even lethal), Boston, 1967; and James S. Turner, The Chemical Feast: The Ralph Nader Study Group Report on Food Protection and the Food and Drug Administration, New York, 1970.
  22.   Marc Lappé, When Antiobiotics Fail: Restoring the Ecology of the Body, Berkeley, 1986.
  23.   C. Orian Truss, quoted in William G. Crook's The Yeast Connection: A Medical Breakthrough, New York, 1986 (updated and revised edition).
  24.   Discussed in Excursus 6: "The SMON Story" in The AIDS War and also in Peter Duesberg's Inventing the AIDS Virus.
  25.   A CD4 cell count of less than 200/mm3 is one of the official "AIDS-indicator diseases", although there is no reliable statistical evidence that such a count is not compatible with perfectly good health.
  26.   "AIDS" is defined by the formula: AIDS-Indicator Disease + HIV = AIDS. When an "asymptomatic" HIV-positive person begins AZT therapy, he has already met the second condition of the formula. Only an "AIDS-indicator disease" is then needed for him to achieve an official "AIDS" diagnosis.
  27.   Chapter XX: "Recovery from AIDS" in The AIDS War.

© 1997 by John Lauritsen
Originally published in The AIDS Cult