Inventing the AIDS Virus

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Inventing the AIDS Virus
Cover of the first edition
Author Peter H. Duesberg
Country United States
Language English
Subject AIDS, HIV, disease
Published 1996 (Regnery Publishing)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 722
ISBN 0-89526-470-6

Inventing the AIDS Virus is a 1996 book by molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, in which Duesberg argues that HIV does not cause AIDS. Duesberg contends that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and 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.[1][2] Duesberg received a negative response from the scientific community for supporting AIDS denialism, misrepresenting and ignoring the scientific evidence that HIV causes AIDS, and for relying upon poor logic and manipulation. Duesberg's book was also the subject of an authorship dispute with one of his graduate students.


Duesberg argues that AIDS is not an infectious disease. He maintains that the accepted theory that HIV causes AIDS fails Koch's postulates and that HIV is a passenger virus unrelated to AIDS. He believes that the symptoms of AIDS are caused by the drugs used to treat the condition, recreational drug use, malnutrition, and unsanitary living conditions, and that American public health and science agencies stifle creativity and conceal the true causes of AIDS.[3]


Duesberg'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.[4][5][6] Inventing the AIDS Virus 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."[7]

Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, wrote in The New York Review of Books that "The central role of HIV in the development of immunodeficiency is, in my view, established by the force of epidemiological and laboratory evidence. On this key issue, Duesberg is, I believe, in error," but "Duesberg has predicted, correctly, that the virus alone is not enough to explain all aspects of the immunodeficiency process."[8][9]

Steven Epstein, author of Impure Science, reviewed Inventing the AIDS Virus 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."[10]

A discussion paper published in the journal Epidemiology focused on Duesberg's book as an illustrative example of a "pseudoscientific approach", "sheltered from conflicting evidence", and harmed by the author's "dogmatic assertions".[11]

Authorship dispute[edit]

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.[12]

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."[12] 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.[13] Inventing the AIDS Virus 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."[13]


  1. ^ "Fact Sheets on HIV/AIDS". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  2. ^ "World Health Organization HIV and AIDS Programme". World Health Organization. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  3. ^ Duesberg, P (1996). Inventing the AIDS Virus. Regnery Publishing. pp. 86–103. ISBN 0-89526-470-6. 
  4. ^ "Fact Sheet: The Evidence that HIV Causes AIDS". National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  5. ^ Delaney, M (2000). "HIV, AIDS, and the Distortion of Science". Focus. 15 (6): 1–6. PMID 12180385. 
  6. ^ "The HIV/AIDS Connection". National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 2005-09-25. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  7. ^ Osborn, June (7 April 1996). "The Unbeliever". New York Times Book Review. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "'The AIDS Heresy': An Exchange". New York Review of Books. August 8, 1996. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  9. ^ "'The AIDS Heresy': Another Exchange". New York Review of Books. September 19, 1996. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  10. ^ Epstein, S (1996-03-14). "Infectious Pessimism". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  11. ^ Maclure M (1998). "Inventing the AIDS virus hypothesis: an illustration of scientific vs unscientific induction.". Epidemiology. 9 (4): 467–73. PMID 9647914. 
  12. ^ a b McGarrahan, Ellen (1995-05-24). "Outbreak". SFWeekly. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  13. ^ a b "Publisher's Preface". Inventing the AIDS Virus. Regnery Publishing. 1997. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 978-0-89526-399-5.