Rodney Richards is an American organic chemist. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1982. Richards is disillusioned by what he perceives as a chronic deterioration in the accepted standards of practice in the biomedical community since he left the industry in 1995. Since then, he has been working as an independent research scientist studying the relationship between viruses and disease with a major focus on developments in testing technologies, particularly as they relate to the diagnosis and management of HIV/AIDS.
After graduation, Richards began working for a small start-up Biotechnology Company, which ultimately became know as Amgen, Inc. During his stay at Amgen, Dr. Richards primary focus was the development of new technologies for diagnosing infectious diseases, including HIV. In 1984, Amgen began a joint venture with Abbott Laboratories, the first licensee of the ELISA [Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay] test for HIV antibodies from inventor Dr. Robert Gallo, in which Amgen would help Abbott develop new technologies for diagnostic tests. "That’s how I got started with the HIV/AIDS business," Dr. Richards recalled.
Richards has analyzed the history of the development of the ELISA and Western Blot (WB) HIV antibody tests. (See the documents below.) He has concluded that the implementation of the WB test and the definition of AIDS in the late 1980s and early 1990s was motivated more by internal political pressures within government institutions than by any evidence-based justification.
- "Throughout the course of this work I have found an ever-increasing tendency for researchers and public health officials to recommend the use of these [HIV antibody] tests, as well as medications, for purposes other than what the FDA has approved them for. Furthermore, many of these recommendations are based only on theoretical considerations, sometimes in the complete absence of any supporting scientific data or clinical experience. And while physicians are at complete liberty to use medications as they see fit, I fear that many patients who are being subjected to interventions that have not been approved by the FDA, are not being adequately informed that this is the case." (Richards 2007)
- "Montagnier took lymph tissue from a suspected AIDS patient, mixed it with cells from a healthy blood donor and performed a cell culture. He removed the liquid and spun it in a centrifuge, but he found no virus. But that didn't stop him. Montagnier repeated the experiment but added a crucial new step. He took the suspected AIDS tissue and mixed it with a variety of cells in a culture, including cells from an umbilical cord. Then he added powerful chemicals called mitogens that artificially force cells to replicate. He found, after 2 or 3 weeks, evidence of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase, a sign of possible retroviral activity... Gallo cultured the cells, but didn't find enough reverse transcriptase activity to convince him that Montagnier had found a retrovirus. So Gallo added another step. He mixed cells from 10 AIDS patients together; then he added those to leukemia T-cells from his HTLV-1 retrovirus experiment. At that point, Gallo found enough reverse transcriptase activity to convince him that there was indeed a retrovirus. That's how he claims to have found HIV." (Scheff 2003)
- "There are at least 30 tests marketed to test for HIV. None of them are approved by the FDA to diagnose the presence or absence of HIV. Not the Elisa, not viral load, not Western Blot, not the p24 antigen test. The FDA and manufacturers clearly state that the significance of testing positive on the Elisa and Western Blot test is unknown." (Scheff 2003)