Inventing the AIDS Virus
|Author||Peter H. Duesberg|
|Subject||AIDS, HIV, Disease|
|Published||1996 (Regnery Publishing)|
Inventing the AIDS Virus is a book in which molecular biologist Peter Duesberg presents his belief that HIV does not cause AIDS. In the book, Duesberg contends that HIV is a harmless passenger virus, and claims that AIDS is caused by unrelated factors such as drug abuse, antiretroviral medication, chronic malnutrition, poor sanitation, and hemophilia. The unambiguous scientific consensus is that HIV causes AIDS and that Duesberg's claims are incorrect.
The book was negatively received within the scientific community for feeding into AIDS denialism, misrepresenting and ignoring the scientific evidence that HIV causes AIDS, and for relying upon poor logic and manipulation. The book was also the subject of an authorship dispute with one of Duesberg's graduate students.
Duesberg's principal assertions are that:
- AIDS is not an infectious disease.
- HIV as the cause of AIDS fails Koch's postulates.
- HIV is a passenger virus unrelated to AIDS.
- The symptoms of AIDS are caused by the drugs used to treat the condition; recreational drug use; malnutrition; and unsanitary living conditions.
- American public health and science agencies stifle creativity and suppress the true causes of AIDS.
The book's central premise, that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, has been completely rejected by the scientific community as a form of AIDS denialism, since HIV has been isolated and shown to be the cause of AIDS.
The book was negatively reviewed in The New York Times Book Review, which wrote that Duesberg's claim "flies in the face of decades of progress in understanding infectious diseases." Contrary to Duesberg's allegations that his view has been suppressed, the review noted that he has "had his day in court many times over" and emphasized the harmful aspects of Duesberg's persistence: "Denial has always been the most devastating social and political dynamic of the AIDS epidemic and his book feeds it abundantly."
Steven Epstein, author of Impure Science, reviewed the book in the Washington Post. Epstein wrote that Duesberg misrepresented the scientific conclusions about AIDS, and that Duesberg was "at his least convincing in responding to new evidence and contrary arguments." Epstein also argued that Duesberg's conclusions involved manipulation and bad logic, and wrote that the book "offers a broad-ranging, revisionist history of the whole enterprise of virus hunting."
A discussion in the journal Epidemiology described Duesberg's work as "unscientific", "sheltered from conflicting evidence", and harmed by the author's "dogmatic assertions".
Inventing the AIDS Virus was initially co-written with Bryan Ellison, one of Duesberg's graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley. However, following a 1994 dispute over manuscript changes, Ellison published the manuscript himself, under the title Why We Will Never Win the War on AIDS, listing himself as the lead author. A dispute between Duesberg and Ellison resulted, with Ellison charging that Duesberg was "doing favors on behalf of several people in the government" who wished to suppress the book.
The book was ultimately published by Regnery Publishing, an imprint specializing in politically conservative and non-mainstream works. In a publisher's preface to Duesberg's book, Regnery described the dispute in terms of Ellison becoming "disenchanted with Duesberg's and his publisher's insistence on careful documentation."
Ellison also charged Duesberg with "cooperat[ing] with some of the very hostile factors to have me thrown out of school right before I could submit my thesis and get my Ph.D." Duesberg stated that "...since [Ellison] didn't talk to me anymore and didn't show up at the lab, I couldn't pay him anymore." Ultimately, Duesberg and Regnery Publishing sued Ellison for breach of contract and copyright violations, winning a "six-figure verdict" and an injunction against Ellison's manuscript.
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