Necessity is the mother of invention.

Anon. from old Latin

In democratic law a suspect is held to be innocent until proven guilty. A suspect may be held for questioning by police, but unless there is sufficient evidence against him he cannot even be brought to trial; he must be presumed innocent and released. To have been at the scene of the crime, acting in a suspicious manner, only marks a person as a suspect. To gain a conviction the prosecutor must show that the suspect actually committed the crime; the prosecutor must prepare a case and at the trial present evidence to prove it. There have been trials when the jury has been swayed by the oratory of the prosecutor and have found the accused guilty on flimsy evidence, and there have been other cases when the accused has been "framed" and found guilty on the strength of fabricated false evidence.

Science, like civil law, demands the truth; it is concerned only with cold, hard fact. All claims of new knowledge, new discoveries, must be supported by clearcut, demonstrable data. Anecdotal evidence or speculation, no matter how convincing, is unacceptable until proven by exact scientific method. But even that is not enough. To gain full acceptance, a claim must not only pass scrutiny for publication in one or more scientific publications, it must then pass the scrutiny of all the scientific people who read the journals.

To prove that a specific germ (or virus) is guilty of causing a certain disease, the first thing a researcher must do is to ensure Koch's postulates (see Chapter 6: Human Errors and Human Ills) are satisfied, the first and most obvious of which is that in every case of the disease the accused germ must be present in significant numbers. If in only one case the germ cannot be detected at all, it obviously cannot be the cause. But that is only the beginning--even if the germ is detected in all cases it still doesn't mean that it has caused the disease, because there may be other germs also present in all cases, as happens in beriberi (see Chapter 6). So to make sure, Koch's second, third and fourth postulates must be met.

Koch's postulates have been discussed already, but whatever you may think of them one thing is certain: no germ or virus can infect a person's body from a distance; to do so it must necessarily be present in the body, it must be present in significant numbers, and it must be seen to be doing something.

Ever since germs were found to play a part in disease there have been many different germs identified to be associated with different disease conditions. As previously mentioned, some of these germs (and viruses) were proven capable of transmitting a particular disease and some were proven to be only incidental, but even the ones found guilty could not pass Koch's third postulate until the postulate was changed to admit susceptibility was a prerequisite for the germ to have effect. Thus it is accepted that for any germ or virus to do harm to anybody, that person must first of all be susceptible, which means that the real cause of any infectious disease is whatever it is that lowers a person's resistance.

AIDS is now considered to be a disease in its own right, characterized by the occurrence of multiple infections, none of them new. In the past when any one of these infections appeared on its own, which was rare, conventional drug treatment was employed and no mention made of immune deficiency. So AIDS has in fact done the world a service in that it has forced the medical profession to relax its vendetta against germs and viruses and focus instead on the real issue--susceptibility--or, in other words, immune deficiency.

Whereas the doctors of the 19th Century can be excused for not identifying the mysterious causes of beriberi, pellagra, etc, the immune-depressing factors of AIDS stand out like neon signs on a dark night and there can be no excuse other than blindness for ignoring them. But medicine is not really an art or a science, it is a commercially oriented industry, based on germs and drugs and more lately on viruses. So when AIDS appeared, medical research was myopically directed in search of the ultimate virus, one which is not governed by the laws of Nature, one which does not wait for someone's resistance to lower, but instead goes out and lowers it all on its own.

So urgent was the need for this discovery that a fair amount of invention had to be employed and a lot of conventional rules set aside. Formalities usually rigid and considered essential were dispensed with entirely, but this was no problem for Dr Robert Gallo because he worked for the US Government in the prestigious National Institute of Health. So in 1984 a new virus, unlike any other known, was announced, and became instantly famous as the AIDS virus. But so hurried was Dr Gallo to beat his French rivals, the announcement was the most premature in medical history. There were no medical trials, no double-blind studies, no epidemiological studies, no submissions to scientific journals, no scientific scrutiny or peer review. Not one of Koch's postulates were met and no proof has ever been produced.

When the subject of scientific accuracy was raised with Dr Gallo in an interview by Charles Ortleib, publisher of The New York Native, Mr Ortlieb reported Dr Gallo's response thus: "Dr Gallo told me that his early assertion that HIV is the cause of AIDS was not based purely on scientific grounds, but rather that he needed to bring the field to another extreme. Otherwise, he felt that people would be confused by multifactorial or crackpot theories. I told him that I thought it was dangerous to mix his public health concerns with his statements of scientific truths. But, he insisted that he had the medical authority to do so."