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Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos,
Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia, 6001,
Valendar F Turner, John Papadimitriou, Barry Page, David Causer, Helman Alfonso, Sam Mhlongo, Todd Miller, Christian Fiala

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In his rapid response: "PubMed searches", 20 August, Nicholas Bennett wrote: "Oxidative stress may induce apoptosis, but the two are not synonymous or necessary any more than oxidation is with cell stimulation. You can induce cell death by UV irradiation (189 pubmed references), but does that mean that all cell death is caused by UV irradiation…?"

Oxidation is not synonymous with apoptosis. However, oxidation is both necessary and sufficient for apoptosis. Not all cell deaths are caused by UV irradiation. However, UV radiation cell death, like apoptosis, is the result of oxidation.

Nicholas Bennett wrote: "I have never said that oxidative stress isn't important, but I have always questioned the level of importance attributed to it by the Perth Group (i.e. that it causes AIDS whereas HIV does not)."

Perhaps we should clarify a few things. We avoid the word "stress" as far as possible. This is because by oxidative stress most researchers mean reactive oxygen species. From the beginning of the AIDS era we have claimed that patients belonging to the AIDS risk groups are exposed to oxidising agents. Exposure to these agents leads to the oxidation of their tissues especially of the cellular sulphydryl groups (SH groups). The cellular oxidation, that is the change in the "terrain", leads to the expression of the infectious agents which cause most of the AIDS indicator diseases as well as cancer.

We have never attributed to "HIV" any causative role in AIDS, for a simple reason. As far as we are concerned to date no evidence exists which demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt the existence of "HIV". In fact evidence exists which shows that the phenomena said to be "HIV", are not retroviral, but cellular phenomena induced by oxidation. If Nicholas Bennett wants us to consider a causative role for "HIV" in AIDS, he must give us the evidence from a study (and a few confirmatory studies) which to his satisfaction proves the existence of a unique infectious retrovirus, "HIV".

Competing interests: None declared