John Lauritsen, 'The AIDS War; Propaganda, profiteering and genocide from the medical-industrial complex' Asklepios Press USA 1993, ISBN 0-943742-08-0.

Reviewed by Mike Chappelle

The Bloomsbury Review, Jan./Feb. 1994

From the beginning I realized something was very wrong with the basic concept of "AIDS", but it is one think to sense something, and quite another to understand it analytically... One part of my mind saw clearly that "AIDS" was a phoney construct. At the same time another part of my mind ... blithely went about analyzing the incidence of a non-existent entity ... Although people were undeniably sick, the diagnoses themselves were arbitrary and irrational. -- John Lauritsen

Assume, just for the sake of argument, that journalist John Lauritsen is correct in this thinking that "AIDS," as we know it, does not exist. It's easy to appreciate the formidable task he faces in making such an idea comprehensible, much less trying to win over the public mind. Everyone "knows" AIDS exists. Most people are informed as well about HIV, announced to be the cause of AIDS by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in 1984 and believed to be most often spread through sexual contact and in the sharing of contaminated needles by drug abusers. Certainly the media have given the U.S. public little reason to think otherwise. Thus the correctness of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis seems to be both the obvious and unanimous opinion of scientists, doctors, and informed laypeople throughout the world. Accordingly, Lauritsen could have begun his most recent book by exposing the illusion of complete scientific conformity on this issue. He is, after all, a member of the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis, which counts among its members Kary Mullis, the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, as well as Harvard's Walter Gilbert, who garnered the same award in 1980. Other outstanding virologists, epidemiologists, and medical doctors have signed on with the group as well.

Yet there would be a problem with opening The AIDS War with such an authoritative scientific perspective. Although it would have the advantage of establishing credibility and demonstrating that an important controversy indeed exists, it might tend to reinforce the notion that issues of medical science are inaccessible technical matters best left to the elite scientific community. Lauritsen wisely adopts a different strategy. The AIDS War presents his previously published investigative reports in chronological order with a few new chapters interspersed. This format allows the reader to follow along as the author's knowledge and insights develop. Thus a potential scientific labyrinth is avoided and a complex story is made comprehensible for the general reader. The result, whatever one might ultimately come to believe about its subject, is a totally fascinating book that turns the AIDS world upside down.

In 1985 Lauritsen published his first major AIDS article in Philadelphia Gay News, which showed he was already skeptical of the way the epidemic was being framed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC was reporting cases in such a way that risk factors were being misrepresented: "Published studies on gay men with AIDS indicate many of them had something in common besides sexual orientation. They were drug abusers -- not necessarily IV drug abusers, but nonetheless regular and generally heavy users of many different unhealthful chemical substances, including quaaludes, cocaine, nitrite inhalants (poppers), ethyl chloride, amphetamines, tuinol, barbiturates, uppers, downers, etc.

The significance of Lauritsen's insight that non-IV drugs are a common denominator in gay men given an AIDS diagnosis becomes apparent if we consider the official definition of AIDS. AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A syndrome is a collection of separate diseases, and there are about 29, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These are all "old" diseases, including tuberculosis, pneumonia (PCP), candidiasis (yeast infection), among others. In other words, one "acquires" a deficient or suppressed immune system, which in turn renders the body unable to resist one or more of these old diseases. One way to acquire a depressed immune system, Lauritsen suggests, is heavy drug use. He tracks down evidence that "recreational" drugs do in fact cause such damage. His early findings (reprinted in The AIDS War) were first published in his book Death Rush: Poppers (Nitrite Inhalants) & AIDS (with Hank Wilson [Pagan Press, 1986]). Lauritsen's "toxicological model" of drugs that weaken or destroy the body's ability to resist infection includes antibiotics and other prescription drugs and their side effects. The AIDS War examines one particular medical drug, AZT, in critical detail.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of AZT for treatment of AIDS in 1987. The basis of its approval was data obtained from drug trials that were designed to be part of a double-blinded placebo-controlled study. (Neither the doctors nor the patients were to know who received AZT.) Using evidence obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and other sources, Lauritsen discovers the study was "not double blinded by any sense of the word" and was "not only appallingly sloppy but manifestly fraudulent." For example:

"Patient #1009, who was already taking AZT [before the study began] and who was suffering from typical AZT toxicities (severe headaches and anemia), was illegally entered into a study for which he was ineligible. Patient #1009 was then assigned to the placebo group, although he continued to take AZT. He dropped out of the study after being in it less than a month, and died on 20 August 1986, two months after leaving the study. He was then counted as a death in the placebo group."

Lauritsen presents evidence that AZT is mutagenic, carcinogenic, and cytotoxic, and causes severe anemia, muscle disease, headaches, nausea, and damage to all organs of the body -- in essence, all the symptoms associated with AIDS. He concludes that "death is the inevitable biochemical consequence" of taking this drug. (That AZT was approved in record-breaking time is one result of pharmaceutical companies and AIDS "activists" working together.)

In 1987 Lauritsen received scientific support for his skepticism of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. University of California virologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Peter Duesberg published a paper in Cancer Research in which he concluded that HIV was not sufficient to cause AIDS -- "That virus is a pussy cat," he is quoted as saying in the March 25, 1988 issue of Science. In an interview Lauritsen conducted for the July 6, 1987, New York Native, Duesberg explained that viruses such as HIV typically do not kill cells and, even if they could, HIV infects so few cells that their death could have no serious effect on a person's health. One might expect that the conclusions of a high-ranking scientist such as Duesberg -- that HIV cannot cause AIDS (and variations on this theme by a growing number of other scientists) -- should have made the headlines by now. However, with few exceptions (notably the London Sunday Times), they have not. Nevertheless, the breaking of the link between HIV and AIDS eventually enabled Lauritsen to arrive at his remarkable conclusion that AIDS does not exist.

The argument goes like this. A person with one of the 29 "old" diseases, such as tuberculosis, who tests positive for HIV antibodies, is given an AIDS diagnosis. If a person with the identical clinical symptoms is HIV-negative the diagnosis would be tuberculosis. In other words, without HIV to hold the syndrome together, AIDS collapses into its separate diseases.

Lauritsen made many attempts to warn mainstream AIDS organizations that "AIDS" is a "phoney diagnosis followed by lethal treatment." However, the drug companies had gotten there first. Organization leadership had been co-opted in the manner in which drug companies seek to "educate" doctors and promote their drugs. Thus the organization Act Up: "under a radical cover ... has consistently served the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. It has helped to put dangerous and worthless drugs ... on the market, and to undermine the principles of rational drug regulation.

Other organizations, such as the Gay Men's Health Crisis in NYC and the American Foundation for AIDS Research, which "is the AIDS establishment," have also received funds from the pharmaceutical industry.

Lauritsen blames drug companies, the leadership of mainstream AIDS organizations, the media, scientists, and the medical profession for causing much unnecessary death. Their exclusive emphasis on a virus has resulted in the prescribing and taking of toxic medical drugs, while it has obscured the recreational and street drug connection. These institutions and individuals have also diverted attention away from the roles of poverty and malnutrition, particularly in developing nations.

Lauritsen's main focus in on the U.S., but he gives some attention to the third world: Africans are diagnosed as having "AIDS" when they are sick with diseases which have been prevalent in Africa for centuries -- diseases which result from poverty and unhealthful living conditions. In fact (as reported in Clinical Aspects of Immunology, Fifth Edition), malnutrition is the number one cause of immune suppression in the world today.

Lauritsen anticipated challenges to his radical call to rethink all things AIDS. Transfusions, infant cases, AIDS in hemophiliacs, and the case of Kimberly Bergalis (who was believed to have contracted AIDS from her dentist), are included and all deeply considered.

The AIDS War, a thorough investigation of an ugly (although, unfortunately, not unique) episode in the history of biomedical research, is not without a positive side. It removes the death sentence commonly associated with both AIDS and a positive HIV-antibody test. In addition, Lauritsen writes, "recovery from the various AIDS-illnesses is possible, and has been happening without publicity since the early days of the epidemic." Although pointedly "not a self-help book," The AIDS War does contain some common-sense advice concerning recovery and provides useful leads in obtaining additional information for both preventing and healing the illnesses commonly associated with AIDS.

Obviously, medical research has failed to produce a vaccine or cure -- this after more than a decade of research costing billions of dollars. The AIDS War is the perfect place to begin to understand why it can never succeed. At the very least, the missing information and critical second opinion provided here deserve to be part of the debate and discussion on the epidemic. Certainly no one who reads The AIDS War will think about the "dread disease" of our time in quite the same way ever again. *

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