In 1986, Peter Duesberg became a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was considered a probable candidate for the Nobel Prize. Next year, his career crashed. In 1987, Duesberg published an article in which he claimed that the HIV retrovirus doesn't - and cannot possibly - cause AIDS.
The consequences for his career were devastating. Colleagues branded his views not only wrong but dangerous. Scientific magazines stopped publishing his articles and, most harmfully, the financing of his research was cancelled. The scientific community all but set up a boycott of the reckless scientist. If Duesberg had admitted his mistake, everything would have been back to normal. But he always had a reputation as an uncompromising scientist. Eighteen years later, Duesberg still argues that HIV is a harmless passenger virus, while AIDS is caused by completely different factors.
Yesterday I talked about this interview with my friend who has a doctoral degree in medicine. He wasn’t surprised at all. He said that almost all AIDS research projects financed by the government agencies in Russia came to same conclusion – HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Although the prevailing theory is that HIV virus is a so called ‘satellite virus’, the one that simply “accompanies” people with weak immunity. He participated in a research project in Kaliningrad that has the highest rate if HIV infected teenagers in Russia. When the research team didn’t found causal relationship between HIV and AIDS, the project was immediately terminated. “Actually, - he told me, - most of medical researchers in Russia know that Duesberg was right. That’s the main reason why Russian government itself spends kopecks on anti-AIDS projects but accepts international grants eagerly.” I was struck dumb from astonishment. “But why didn’t they say out load?” Now he smiled indulgently at my naivet?. “Can you imagine how many people became rich and famous fighting AIDS?”
Then I remembered similar stories. For example, 2k problem. At first, the Russian government took very seriously. A special committee studied the problem for six months and came to the conclusion that 2k is a scam. American and European media was hysterical about Russian irresponsibility. On the eve of 2000 the US Embassy in Moscow recommended that all Americans leave the country before the catastrophe. 2k problem turned out to be what it was – a scam. Nobody said, “Hey, Russians were right.” Does anyone know how many billions of dollars software developers made out of that scare?
I posted some more thoughts on the topic - "Is AIDS a Scam?"