Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Request for Peter Flegg and Outstanding 'Perth Group' Questions 1 December 2004
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Gregory P Benvenuti,
Process Engineer
Johannesburg, South Africa

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Request for Peter Flegg and Outstanding 'Perth Group' Questions

Thank you to Drs Flegg and Bennet for your replies to my rapid response. I would like to assure you that my interest in this “existence of HIV debate” is not that I want to be convinced that HIV doesn’t exist, but rather be convinced that it does. I desperately want it to be so, so that I can say once again that I have faith in the authorities that tell me that I should accept it. Having said that, it simply isn’t good enough for me that I am told that HIV does exist without proof that satisfies MY criteria for proof – not the Perth Group’s or Dr Gallo’s or Dr Duesberg’s. For me, this isolation issue is like a huge abyss that my understanding and logic will not let me bridge. It is not because I don’t want to “move on” from the isolation issue, but it is because my intellectual integrity (not a doctrine) does not allow me to. Perhaps this is because as a non- medical person, I have not fully grasped all the details of the scientific method for the isolation and characterisation of viruses. I would therefore like to, in my own words, explain the way that I understand it and I invite you to correct what that may be wrong with it. This may be a small part of the whole HIV/AIDS science, but is it not a crucially important one because a lot of other science is based on it? I am also going to try and elucidate my misgivings around the isolation issue. Of course these misgivings have been initiated by the writings of the Perth Group, but I am confident that you should be able to explain the issues I raise in as simple language as you can muster.

So here goes. A scientist wants to determine if a certain set of maladies are caused by a retrovirus, because retroviruses have been in the past implicated in causing dysfunction of the immune system. So the scientist takes tissue from a person exhibiting signs of this syndrome and attempts to find particles which may be associated with the disease. After examination of the tissue there is evidence that there are suspicious particles in the tissue. He then cultures useable amounts of this suspect particle using a particular culturing technique. He attempts to purify the particle according to the accepted method of purification and finds that although he can see these particles in the unpurified cultures they don’t seem to appear in the purified culture. BUT this is not necessarily a problem for the researcher because what he has found evidence of is higher amounts of reverse transcriptase activity, in the purified band at which retroviruses concentrate, than in the other parts of the density gradient. So yes, although the particles don’t seem to be present in the purified sample, there is an indirect indication that retroviruses are implicated because of the increased activity of reverse transcriptase.

Now this is where I start to lose the plot. Now our hypothetical researcher knows that exogenous particles usually illicit an antibody response. So he mixes this “isolated particle” mixture with the blood from another sick person and finds that there is some sort of reaction going on and he uses a gel electrophoresis to determine the proteins which are reacting. Okay, the “purified stuff” doesn’t actually contain virus-like particles but does contain a sign of retrovirus activity and it also contains a whole lot of other stuff that no one has identified – presumably cellular debris. My question here is how does the researcher know that the antibody-antigen response is due to the virus and not to any of those other particles? He can say that he is sure that the antibody reactions are specific to this virus because of the RT detection, but can he actually be 100% certain? This is what I just don’t understand. Is it really impossible that all the people who exhibit these particular unusual diseases at the same time would naturally have the same antigens and the same antibodies? And so by testing one serum against another serum of a sick person the researcher is just fulfilling a kind of self-fulfilled prophesy? Healthy people generally don’t exhibit this reaction and if they do we usually find that they get sick in the future. But does this really prove that the antibodies were induced by that particle? The other thing that I just don’t get is how, if the researcher has yet to actually prove that this virus does exist (even by his criteria that it is not necessary to “see” the virus) that he then inoculates this mixture of “purified virus” into a rabbit and claims that any reactions that occur with patient sera are proof that the rabbit has created antibodies to the “virus”. How does he know that the other particles in the “purified” mixture didn’t cause the antibodies to be formed?

Then there are a few questions I have about the nucleic acids. From all the EM’s that I have seen of “HIV” and admittedly this is on dissident websites and my own copies of Gallo’s papers, (university websites never seem to put EM’s on the internet) it looks as if science has never managed to attain HIV particles separate from everything else. Science also says it has sequenced and cloned the HIV genome. In doing this I presume that the researcher would have to take material which is believed to be infected with HIV and would look to find pieces of genetic material which are retroviral in nature. And as far as I understand in people who have AIDS, have the presumed HIV antibodies, genetic material of a retroviral nature can be found. This same material cannot be found in healthy, antibody negative subjects. Fine. But can these researchers really be 100% certain that they are finding material related to this unique retrovirus called HIV if they can’t compare it to the “real thing”? If you want to compare it to the “real thing” would you not have to have viral particles on their own so that you can be sure that any material you extract out of the sample is indeed from the virus particle in question? Is it not true to say that all they can really claim is an association (and it may be a VERY strong one) between the existence of these nucleic acids and sick people? The same argument applies for antibodies.

Another thing that really seems very odd to me is this issue of the differences in numbers between viral load as determine by Q PCR and the ability to find particles by culture. I mean, if a patient has a viral load of 750 000 particles per ml (for instance) of blood and then only 100 particles per ml (for instance) can be seen in that person’s blood under the microscope, excuse me for thinking that something is fishy here. Wasn’t this a big problem for HIV science before the development of PCR? Now I’m sure I’ll be told that the virus is not in the blood but in the lymph nodes, but isn’t viral load test performed on blood? I also know that higher titre of “HIV RNA” correlate with worsened disease. But I still don’t follow the logic, in the light of the previous paragraph that this necessarily proves that it is “HIV RNA” which causes the syndrome. It may just be associated with the syndrome? Is this completely outside the realm of possibility?

If the orthodox scientists would take some time to explain this to me, or explain why I should not see these issues as problematic in acknowledging that HIV does exist then I would be most grateful. I’m sure that if a reasonable argument is presented to me, I will have no problem accepting it.

Another reason that I have some of these doubts about the role of HIV in the syndrome AIDS is because I have done many Pubmed searches into the role of nutrients in disease and “HIV disease”. An example that comes to mind is the levels of glutathione in HIV patients being much lower than in healthy people. There does seem to be some connection between a lack of nutrients and sick people. This MAY be explained by oxidation or an imbalance between oxidants and reductants in the cell. Once again, does the deficiency cause the disease or is it a result of the disease? I don’t know, but maybe if billions of dollars have been spent on researching this phenomenon like billions have been spent on HIV then maybe we would be able to prove that nutrient deficiency does cause AIDS. Maybe you could prove that pixie dust causes AIDS if you try hard enough and throw enough money at it.

I have read the Fawzi study in the NEJM (June 2004 edition, I think) relating to the beneficial effects of multivitamins on clinical outcomes in women in Tanzania with AIDS. Why has this kind of information not got out into the public arena? Especially in a country like South Africa where this could be a much cheaper alternative to expensive and potentially(!) toxic ARV’s? If the medical establishment is so determined to help people, why hasn’t it leapt on this information like it leaps on the development of a new protease inhibitor? I did a Pubmed search on vitamin toxicity and very few papers showed up. I did a Pubmed search on AZT toxicity and literally hundreds of citations appeared? What is going on here? Why is everyone in SA in a frothy over the government supplied ARV’s rollout? Where is the government supplied multivitamin rollout?

The medical establishment has put all its eggs into one HIV basket. The truth is that more and more information is coming to light that is indicating that this was a mistake. When will the medical establishment open its mind to people who see things in a different way and try to learn from them instead of calling them crackpots? After reading hundreds of citations about how toxic AZT is it looks like a crackpot idea to tell people that they should take that stuff for the rest of their (shortened) lives. I can’t say that I blame Mbeki for calling for AZT to be reappraised if he’d read what I read. And maybe his actions did result in people dying because they didn’t get treatment, I don’t know. But how many people died from AZT toxicity in the days of monotherapy and how many are dying today not of “mutated virus” but of iatrogenic causes? The medical establishment is seldom, if ever held responsible for this kind of thing.

For me this is not about me being right, or the establishment being right, or the Perth Group being right. It’s about people’s lives. I think all involved in this debate want to see less people sick and dying. Would it be too much to ask from the clever people in the medical establishment to spend some time thinking about how nutritional status, sanitation and toxins affect our long term health instead of pinning every disease on a microbe? After all, TB infection was effectively ended in the West due to improvements in sanitation. Maybe if those in the medical world insisted as strongly on the provision of sanitation for all as they do for the provision of antiretrovirals we wouldn’t have hundreds of thousands of people suffering from TB?

Competing interests: None declared