Document:Talk on Risk

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Talk on Risk-AIDS Hypothesis
by John Lauritsen

Buenos Aires
8 April 1995


This talk was delivered at the Alternative AIDS Symposium held in Buenos Aires in 1995.

For a decade and a half we have been subjected to AIDS propaganda. We have been indoctrinated into ever-changing and ever-more-elaborate AIDS mythologies. Over 100,000 papers have been written on "AIDS." The jargon, the technobabble must run to hundreds of words by now. It all seems hopelessly complicated – far beyond the comprehension of a mere layman, a non-specialist.

And yet, at bottom, "AIDS" is really rather simple. My goal in this talk is to cut through the trappings and mystifications of "AIDS," to lay bare and articulate its fundamental assumptions and contradictions. I want to bring us back to the Reality Principle: to see things as they really are.

My entire message can be expressed in three brief points:

  1. There is no such thing as "AIDS."
  2. HIV is not harmful.
  3. People with "AIDS" diagnoses became sick in the ways that they did because of health risks in their lives – especially drugs.

1. There is no such thing as "AIDS."

The so-called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or "AIDS" is not a coherent, single disease entity. It has neither symptoms nor diagnostic criteria of its own. Other diseases, such as mumps, measles, polio, chicken pox, rabies, gonorrhea, malaria, salmonella, the common cold, or bubonic plague, can readily be described and diagnosed. Not "AIDS," which is defined entirely in terms of other, old diseases, in conjunction with dubious test results and even more dubious assumptions. Although people are undeniably sick, "AIDS" itself does not really exist; it is a phoney construct.

The AIDS surveillance definition of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has changed several times, and it contains its own contradiction. Nevertheless, the core definition of "AIDS" can be expressed by the following formula (for which I am indebted to Peter Duesberg):


In conjunction with HIV, an "AIDS-indicator disease" becomes "AIDS." In the absence of HIV, the "AIDS-indicator disease" is called by its old name.


Let's try a couple of examples:



At last count there are 29 "AIDS-indicator diseases," not one of which is new. All of them have causes other than HIV.

  1. Bacterial infections, multiple or recurrent (applies only to children)
  2. Candidiasis of bronchi, trachea, or lungs
  3. Candidiasis of esophagus (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  4. Coccidioidomycosis, disseminated or extrapulmonary
  5. Cryptococcosis, extrapulmonary
  6. Cryptococcosis, chronic intestinal
  7. Cytomegalovirus disease other than retinitis
  8. Cytomegalovirus retinitis (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  9. HIV encephalopathy (dementia)
  10. Herpes simplex, with esophagitis, pneumonia, or chronic mucocutaneous ulcers
  11. Histoplasmosis, disseminated or extrapulmonary
  12. Isosporiasis, chronic intestinal
  13. Kaposi's sarcoma (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  14. Lymphoid interstitial pneumonia and/or pulmonary lymphoid hyperplasia (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  15. Lymphoma, Burkitt's (or equivalent term)
  16. Lymphoma, immunoblastic (or equivalent term)
  17. Lymphoma, primary in brain
  18. Mycobacterium avium or M. kansasii, disseminated or extrapulmonary (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  19. M. tuberculosis, disseminated or extrapulmonary (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  20. Mycobacterial diseases, other disseminated or extrapulmonary (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  21. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  22. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
  23. Salmonella septicemia, recurrent
  24. Toxoplasmosis of brain (either a "definitive diagnosis" or a "presumptive diagnosis")
  25. HIV wasting syndrome

On 8 December 1992, a letter was mailed by the CDC to State Health Officers, informing them: "On January 1, 1993, an expanded surveillance definition for AIDS will be effective." The following AIDS-indicator conditions were added to the list:

  1. A CD4+ T-lymphocyte count < 200 cells/mm3 (or a CD4+ percent < 14)
  2. Pulmonary tuberculosis
  3. Recurrent pneumonia (within a 12-month period)
  4. Invasive cervical cancer

The AIDS-indicator diseases are extremely heterogeneous.

Many of the diseases are caused by funguses, for example, candidiasis, coccidioidomycosis, crypttococcosis, histoplasmosis, and pneumocystis carinii. Others are caused by bacteria, like salmonella. Others, by mycobacteria, like tuberculosis. Still others, by viruses, like cytomegalovirus or herpes. And still others, like the various cancers and neoplasms, including lymphoma and Kaposi's sarcoma, have no established etiology. And still others, like dementia or wasting, are poorly defined and can have many different causes.

Both components of the AIDS-defining formula are absurd:

  1. The AIDS-indicator disease part is absurd because the diseases have nothing in common. Although the central idea of "AIDS" is immune deficiency, some of the AIDS-indicator diseases – like the cancers, wasting, and dementia – have nothing whatever to do with immune deficiency.

  2. The HIV part of the formula is also absurd, because it is almost always based on invalidated and unreliable antibody tests; because it is sometimes based on "presumptive" diagnoses (in other words, on guesses); and above all, because HIV is not pathogenic.

Since the very definition of "AIDS" is absurd, it necessarily follows: "There is no such thing as 'AIDS.'"

2. HIV is not harmful.

Molecular biologist Peter Duesberg has argued that it is not in the nature of retroviruses to cause serious illness, and HIV is a completely typical retrovirus.

HIV's consistent lack of biochemical activity is a salient reason for rejecting the HIV-AIDS hypothesis. There are different ways of evaluating the activity of a microbe, just as there are different ways of evaluating the activity of a human being (such things as motion, heartbeat, breathing, body temperature, etc.). Right now I'm giving a talk. If I were running the 100 meter race, I would be much more active; if I were asleep, I would be much less active; and so on. HIV is consistently inactive, even in patients who are dying from so-called "AIDS." It therefore cannot cause disease, any more than a human being could rob a bank at the same time he was lying in a coma.

3. People with "AIDS" diagnoses became sick in the ways that they did because of health risks in their lives – especially drugs.

The basic idea here is that different "risk groups" and different individuals are getting sick in different ways and for different reasons. We need to find out what factors have affected their health in ways that caused them to develop one or more of the 29 old illnesses that qualify for a diagnosis of "AIDS."

With regard to any specific risk group, the question is not, "Why have these people developed AIDS?", but rather, "Why are these people sick?".

Let's take the risk groups one at a time:

Why Are Intravenous Drug Users Getting Sick?

Intravenous drug users (IVDUs) are the second largest risk group for "AIDS" in the U.S., and their illnesses are the easiest to explain. They have acquired AIDS-illnesses as a toxicological consequence of the heroin, cocaine, and other drugs that they have put into their bodies. According to the prevailing AIDS paradigm, they got sick because they shared needles, thereby acquiring HIV infection, which caused their illnesses. There are three problems with this hypothesis:

  1. No study has ever been done to determine if all, or even most, IVDUs with "AIDS" diagnoses ever did share needles (most IVDUs, in fact, do not share needles);
  2. The hypothesis ignores the harmful consequences of putting chemicals into the body; and
  3. HIV is not pathogenic.

The clinical profile of an IVDU with "AIDS" is emaciation (wasting) and one or more lung diseases. And yet, for a hundred years, the classic profile of a chronic heroin user has been emaciation and lung disease. Heroin is bad for the health and bad for the immune system; on top of that, it suppresses the respiratory system. The consequences are tuberculosis or one or another form of pneumonia: emaciation and lung disease.

More than a decade before the first cases of "AIDS" were reported, the distinguished British epidemiologist, Gordon Stewart, was studying drug addicts in the United States. His team made the following observations:

They were often extremely emaciated, suffering from wasting diseases, various weird blood-borne infections with skin bacteria, Candida and Cryptococci, which would not ordinarily be regarded as pathogenic in their own right.... We didn't find Kaposi's sarcoma and we didn't find Pneumocystis [carinii pneumonia] but, then, we weren't looking for it. [Quoted by Jad Adams in AIDS: The HIV Myth, New York, 1989.]

In his paper, "AIDS Acquired by Drug Consumption and Other Noncontagious Risk Factors," Peter Duesberg cites many medical references that indicate that psychoactive drugs leads to immune suppression and clinical abnormalities similar to AIDS.

So then, IVDUs are getting sick in 1995 in the same ways and for the same reasons they were getting sick 86 years ago. The only difference is that now their illnesses are called "AIDS."

Why Are Gay Men Getting Sick?

Although "gay men" (homosexual men) comprise 63% of "AIDS" cases, as a whole they are not at risk for developing "AIDS." All across America are tens of millions of males who have had sex with each other, and who remain healthy. 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" (drugs used for intoxication, rather than for medical purposes)
  • Venereal diseases + antibiotics
  • Psychological factors
  • AZT and other nucleoside analogues

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 fits most gay men who developed "AIDS": In the decade preceding their diagnosis they contracted venereal diseases (VD) 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 the Moral Majority (an American coalition of fundamentalist Christians); 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.

I have devoted thirteen pages of my book, The AIDS War, to describing the health risks in the lives of those particular gay men who became sick with AIDS-illnesses. Some of the drugs they used – like the nitrite inhalants (or "poppers") – were hardly used at all by anyone who was not a gay man. Certain "designer drugs" that were popular in the gay disco scene were virtually unknown outside the gay scene.

It would appear that this subset of gay men became sick primarily because of drugs, both medical and "recreational." At any rate, there were abundant health risks in their lives, and it would have been surprising if any of them had remained healthy.

Iatrogenic AIDS

We must also take note of "Iatrogenic AIDS", which is "AIDS" caused by medical practice. This mainly consists of treatment with AZT or other nucleoside analogues. Most of the victims are gay men, given these drugs on the basis of an HIV-antibody-positive diagnosis. I'll discuss this later.

Hemophiliacs, Transfusion Cases, Other Risk Groups

Because of time, I'll not go into the other risk groups: the hemophiliacs, the transfusion cases, and the others. I'll just say that all of these groups combined account for less than 10% of the total U.S. AIDS cases, and that there are good reasons to explain why these people became sick with one or more of the AIDS-indicator diseases.

Recovery from "AIDS"

When it comes to treatment, the prevailing AIDS-paradigm, including the HIV-AIDS hypothesis, has led nowhere. The mood among AIDS researchers is one of pessimism, gloom, and confusion.

In contrast, we who advocate the Risk-AIDS hypothesis have a very optimistic outlook. We believe that there is no reason why individuals who are HIV-antibody-positive should not remain perfectly healthy, provided they take care of themselves. And we believe that most people with "AIDS" diagnoses ought to be able to recover fully, if they take the right steps.

The one thing people with "AIDS" diagnoses must not do, if they want to get better, is to take toxic drugs that they don't need. At the top of the list is AZT, about which I have written a great deal since 1987. AZT is the greatest iatrogenic disaster in medical history.

The theory behind AZT therapy is wrong:

  • HIV is not the cause of "AIDS." Even when HIV can be detected, it is not replicating.
  • AZT's toxicities are severe: AZT is the most toxic drug ever prescribed for long-term use. AZT causes severe anemia, headaches, nausea, muscular pain, and cachexia. It damages the nerves and every organ in the body. It is a known carcinogen.
  • AZT was approved by the FDA on the basis of fraudulent research: I have examined hundreds of pages of documents that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was forced to release under the Freedom of Information Act. It is clear from these documents that the Phase II AZT trials were fraudulent: that all kinds of cheating took place, and that the investigators deliberately used data which they knew were false. (The Phase II AZT trials, conducted in 1986, formed the basis of AZT's approval in the U.S. and 31 other countries.)

There is no scientifically credible evidence AZT has benefits of any kind: The studies that have been used to claim benefits for AZT were all paid for and controlled by Wellcome, the manufacturer of AZT. They are therefore unworthy of credence, in light of the fraud that was committed in the Phase II AZT trials.

Peter Duesberg has claimed that AZT is now the single greatest cause of "AIDS," and I agree. Since AZT can cause several of the AIDS-indicator diseases, and since patients given AZT are already HIV-positive, it's clear that AZT can cause "AIDS," according to the formula: Indicator Disease + HIV = AIDS.

What people with "AIDS" should do is identify the health risks that made them sick in the first place, and then eliminate those health risks from their lives. It's as simple as that. In most cases these health risks are toxins: medical as well as "recreational" drugs. But psychological factors, infectious diseases (and the concomitant treatments with antibiotics), and genetic factors undoubtedly also play a role in causing particular AIDS-indicator illnesses.

In simple outline form, a program of recovery may look something like this:

  • Take charge of your own recovery.
  • Break away from the AIDS death messages.
  • Adopt a holistic concept of health: mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a sound body).
  • Identify and eliminate all health risks.
  • Detoxify both mind and body:
  • No "recreational" drugs.
  • No cigarettes.
  • No toxic medical drugs (like AZT).
  • Observe good nutrition
  • Avoid sugar.
  • Exercise.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Have faith that good health will return.

If this looks like a program for healthy living, that's what it is.

Illness is usually multifactorial in origin, and good health is always multifactorial. Good health doesn't depend on any one panacea, but on a number of elements: freedom from toxins; nutritious food (in moderation); vigorous, balanced exercise; pure water; pure air; freedom from hostile stress, including noise; satisfying friendships; satisfying sex; satisfying work; an intellectual life; and enough sleep and rest.

Recovery from drug abuse

In most cases recovery from "AIDS" will involve recovery from substance abuse, so I want to say a few words about this. Despite a lot of misinformation, the following points are solidly established:

  • The substance abuse itself is the primary problem; it is not merely a symptom of another, underlying problem (psychological, sociological, or whatever).
  • The substance abuser must want to stop.
  • Total abstinence from drugs and alcohol is necessary. This means that every day, for the rest of his life, the substance abuser will stay away from the first drink and the first drug.
  • Although professional treatment may sometimes be useful, or even necessary, nothing has ever been so successful as the self-help programs of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), in which recovering alcoholics or drug addicts "share experience, strength and hope with each other," in order to stay "clean and dry." AA and NA are entirely self-supporting, depending upon small, voluntary contributions from their members. If a recovering alcoholic or drug addict has no money, then he pays nothing. And, I might add, not a cent of our tax money is spent on either AA or NA.

Constructive criticism of alternative health care providers

We critics of the orthodox AIDS model are grateful for the support we have received from people in alternative health care. However, the time has come for us to offer constructive criticism of some alternative health approaches to "AIDS," just as we have already made strong criticisms of orthodox medical approaches.

My main criticism is that many alternative health practitioners fail to deal with the real reasons people with "AIDS" became sick. Some of them have only a single commodity to promote; others have a whole line of goods – either way, they perceive recovery from "AIDS" in terms of what they have to offer. Acupuncturists want to treat "AIDS" with acupuncture; hypnotherapists, with hypnotism; aromatherapists with therapeutic aromas; homeopaths, with homeopathic remedies; Chinese herbalists, with Chinese herbs; food supplement advocates, with food supplements; diet zealots, with weird and unappealing diets; distributors of electromagnetic gadgets, with electromagnetic radiation; and so on.

Some of these treatments represent outright charlatanism.

Most of them are, at best, inappropriate. To give just one example: A man was in the terminal stage of alcoholism. He had come close to death more than once. In desperation he consulted a homeopath, whose treatment consisted of nothing but a homeopathic remedy. The man continued to drink, and nearly died a couple of months later. Fortunately, his friends got him to a detoxification center, where he was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous. He is now sober and much better, no thanks to homeopathy.

Many alternative health practitioners simply accept the premises of the official AIDS paradigm. They claim that their remedies or "protocols" are active against viruses, or cause T-cells to go up, or cause patients to go from HIV-antibody-positive to HIV-antibody-negative status. Since our task as AIDS-critics is to deconstruct and demolish the prevailing AIDS-paradigm, we cannot look kindly upon attempts to reinforce that paradigm from the alternative health camp.

Our most severe criticism should go to those alternative health practitioners who accept and even promote therapy with AZT and the other nucleoside analogues. There are three alternative health books on AIDS, which advocate AZT therapy along with the usual vitamin pills. One of the authors idiotically advocates taking warm baths to offset the toxicities of AZT; he was too stupid and too cowardly to warn against taking AZT in the first place. We should condemn these quacks in the strongest possible terms.

They are traitors to the ideal of holistic health.


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 is all wrong.

What people living with an HIV or an "AIDS" diagnosis need, is not a new drug, but a counselor with a clear mind and a warm heart. They need someone who will treat them as a whole person, not as a patient labeled 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.

I hope that when the "AIDS epidemic" is behind us, and the lessons have been drawn, it will be seen as a vindication of the holistic view of health.

Above all, do no harm.
— saying attributed to Hippocrates


  1. Peter H. Duesberg. "AIDS Acquired by Drug Consumption and Other Noncontagious Risk Factors." Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Vol. 55, No. 3 (1992).
  2. Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, et al. "Is a Western Blot Proof of HIV Infection?" Bio/Technology, June 1993.
  3. John Lauritsen. Chapter XIX: "The Risk-AIDS Hypothesis." The AIDS War, Asklepios, New York 1993.

© 1995 by John Lauritsen