The Perth Group
The HIV-AIDS debate

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Previous question

My doctor says the HIV tests are highly specific and the Perth Group is wrong.  How can a group of physicists know more medicine than my doctor?

The Perth Group has never claimed to be infallible.  We have freely admitted we may be wrong.  For instance see our opening remarks at the July 2000 Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel meeting here.  The Perth Group does not claim to know "more medicine" than any doctor.  That would be foolish.  What the Perth Group address is merely one very small part of medicine, that is, the HIV theory of AIDS.  This is a subject we have been researching since the very beginning of the AIDS era in 1981 and one with which we regard ourselves reasonably familiar.  And we are not all physicists.  See here.  Even if we were all physicists, or electricians or plumbers or whatever occupation anyone wishes to nominate, that will not resolve the argument.  Science does not progress through consensus amongst one or another group.  In a scientific debate what is important is what is said.  Not who says it or where it is said [1].  Even outsiders working in humble surroundings can come up with ideas and theories better than a current paradigm.  Albert Einstein was unable to obtain a post at a University and needed the help of a classmate's father to obtain a position as a "technical expert third class" in the Patent Office in Bern. This is where he wrote his four seminal papers the first of which was to win him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

 We do not doubt for a moment your doctor believes the HIV tests are highly specific.  Meaning that HIV and virtually nothing else is capable of causing a positive test.  There are two reasons for your doctor's belief [2].  Firstly, he may accept it based on the word of others.  That is, trust in the opinions of colleagues or scientists whose views he accepts because they are the recognised authorities in this area.  No one could ever quibble with this approach because no professional has the time to practise his craft and check up on everything.  However, unless one assumes authorities are always correct, such pragmatism cannot resolve a scientific issue.  All that is guaranteed is that the view of the established experts will prevail.  The second reason is your doctor has studied the scientific literature himself and has come to the same conclusions as the established experts.  As a patient it is very reasonable to ask your doctor a number of questions in the expectation of obtaining satisfactory answers.  Here are some suggested questions and your doctor is most welcome to join in the debate.  You may also wish to study Question 8.

1.  When Montagnier and Gallo claimed to have proven the existence of "HIV" in 1983/84 based on its "isolation", how did their experiments support their conclusions?  (This is important for many reasons including the fact that virus constituents are used in the antibody and PCR tests).

2.  These researchers also claimed to have obtained "purified virus".  What evidence did they present to back up this claim?

3.  Is it possible to obtain the "HIV" proteins and RNA without purification?  (Remembering that viruses and cells are made up of the same biochemical constituents as cells and viruses grow only in cells).

4.  Assuming there are such entities as "HIV" proteins and that they have been separated from all the cellular material and proteins in which "HIV" is cultured, does having one or several antibodies which react with these proteins prove they are "HIV antibodies"?

5. If your doctor concedes cross-reacting antibodies can be a problem with antibody tests, by what means have the established experts proven the tests are highly specific for HIV infection?  Where are their data published?

6.  If you live in a part of the world [3] where the diagnosis of HIV infection is performed following two reactive ELISA antibody tests followed by a "confirmatory" Western blot, how can the tests be considered highly specific when the criteria for a positive Western blot vary between countries, institutions and even laboratories in the same city?  See Western blot chart here.

7.  In regard to the "confirmatory" Western blot and assuming each country, insitution or laboratory is correct, how can a person be infected with HIV in New York City on Sunday and not infected the following Monday in Paris? Or in Sydney Australia on Tuesday?   Would he be infected midway across the Atlantic?  Midway across the Pacific?

8. Would your doctor accept that ECG criteria diagnostic of a recent heart attack vary between hospitals and countries?

Next question

ENDNOTES

1.  The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls. And tenement halls.  From "The Sound of Silence" by Paul Simon.

2.  There might be a third.  Your doctor may have performed or know of experiments which resolve the issue but the data remain unpublished.  In this case whoever is responsible should publish the findings.

3.  In the developing world laboratory tests for "HIV" or immunological function are optional.  In other words, "HIV" is diagnosed clinically.  Would your doctor do that?  That means take your history, thoroughly examine you and then pronounce you infected with HIV.  This is the basis of the WHO Bangui definition for AIDS in Africa.  See page 4-5 "Provisional WHO case definition for AIDS" here.  In Africa HIV is also diagnosed with a single ELISA antibody test without a "confirmatory" test that is used in almost all the developed world.  See here for example.  Any doctor practising in this manner in Europe, the US or Australia would risk disciplinary action by his professional board and being taken to court by his patient.