For over a decade, the media has reported stories bout a devious, slippery virus called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the supposed cause of AIDS. This virus is said to adapt with amazing speed, making it difficult to develop vaccines and effective drugs. Millions of people are said to be infected with HIV. What the media does not report is this: HIV has never been isolated!

" 10 years of research, only 19 'full-length HIV' genomes...have been sequenced, and no one has ever established whether or not these too are an endogenous product of normal cells, or a genuine infectious entity" (Hodgkinson, p. 18).

Basically, a group of researchers found some genetic material and declared it to be the cause of AIDS. Others jumped on the bandwagon. Researchers have manipulated it with all kinds of technological wizardry; they have needed to use new techniques because of "the low levels of virus involved!" (Eleopulos et al, P. 14). Researchers have reported a "scarcity or apparent absence of viral DNA in a proportion of patients" (Eleopulos, P. 13).

"If there is such a 'massive' HIV infection, why is it not detected by standard hybridization procedures...?"

This is just one of the questions that researcher Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, (Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia) and colleagues ask in their technical critique of HIV research that cites 251 articles. Their main criticism is that "although Montagnier, Gallo and Levy and their respective colleagues refer to virion or virus particles purification or isolation, none of these groups have presented evidence for the isolation of retrovirus particles or even the isolation of virus-like particles...(At the time of writing, neither has any other group of HIV/AIDS research)" (Eleopulos, P. 7). Without isolating the particles under study from everything else, scientists cannot determine whether they have features characteristic of an infectious agent.

Virus particles, which are made up of a unique combination of genetic material coated with protein molecules, can be seen with an electron microscope. Although genetic material with a density band characteristic of retroviruses has been found, HIV researchers have never found any virus particles. "How then is it possible to claim that the RNA which banded at 1.16 gm/ml, HIV RNA, is the genome of a retrovirus without proof that it is a constituent of a particle, viral or non-viral which bands at this density?" ask Eleopulos and colleagues. They also criticize the fact that no HIV RNA has ever been obtained from cells taken freshly from patients. It has been found only after "drastic manipulation in the laboratory, mostly involving being cultured in cancerous cell lines."

If no virus exists - or at least has not been identified - why are people being diagnosed as HIV positive? The Western Blot and ELISA tests react to many antibodies, not specifically to HIV antibodies. Researchers have found that these tests produce positive results in people with antibodies to fungal infections (Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, Pneumocystitis carinni) and mycobacterial infections (tuberculosis, leprosy): "88% of AIDS cases diagnosed between 1988 and 1992 had one or more fungal or mycobacterial infections." Such infections are very common in "AIDS-endemic" areas of Central Africa. Because HIV has not been isolated, the specificity of HIV antibody tests cannot be determined.

- "Origin of the Specious" by Nevelle Hodgkinson. Continuum, September/October 1996.
- "The Isolation of HIV: Has it really been achieved?" by Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, Valendar F. Turner, John M. Papadimitriou, David Causer. Continuum - Supplement, September/October 1996.
- Continuum, 172 Foundling Court, Brunswick Centre, London WC1N 1QE. Phone 0171-713-7071.

(Reprint, Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, December 1998 edition)

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