Q: You think the war on AIDS should, instead, be the war on drugs?

 A: Yes, I think so. But that is not my field. I am just trying to find a consistent alternative, trying to find an explanation. And I think the only thing new in the past 15 years in the Western world is the increased use of drugs.

 

Q: What about AIDS in babies in this country?


A: An AIDS baby is one who is (a) sick and (b) has antibody to the virus. Now, 95 percent of AIDS babies are born to mothers who are drug-addicted or prostitutes. That's 95 percent of the cases. You don't hear of AIDS babies in Orinda or Lafayette. Never. You're talking about children who have picked up the virus from their mothers. And the babies are sick and die because the mother, say, was taking cocaine when she should have had a steak or a glass of milk, at the time the baby's lung was being formed or the brain was being developed--this is an extremely sensitive time for the baby, the early stages of development. If it doesn't get proteins at this time, it will be retarded or defective; it can't catch up.

 

Q: What difference does it make which hypothesis you use--virus-AIDS or risk-AIDS? People are still dying.

 A: Well, it makes a difference if you want to develop a public-health policy that is successful. The one we have now, based on the virus-AIDS hypothesis, is a total failure. Its predictions are wrong: AIDS hasn't spread into the heterosexual population. Current policy hasn't cured anyone, despite the billions of dollars spent. And it now is using AZT, which will kill more and more people. These are the accomplishments of the virus-AIDS hypothesis translated into public-health policy.

So if you want to have a better showing in terms of public-health benefits, you first have to know what the cause is and then take appropriate action. But you'll never get a good public-health policy based on poor s cience. And that's what we have now.

A public-health policy based on the risk-AIDS hypothesis would immediately break away from the central HIV definition of the syndrome and instead would classify the 25 diseases according to the risks that may generate them--poppers for Kaposi's, heroin for pneumonia--and would treat each one accordingly. You wouldn't give all of these people AZT regardless of whether they are suffering from diarrhea or dementia or Kaposi's sarcoma or pneumonia--which is what we're doing now.

 

Q: If a person is HIV-positive but does not take drugs, eats a balanced diet, and gets good exercise and rest, what is his prognosis?

 A: Exactly the same as for an HIV-negative person. Exactly the same. The fact that one or two million Americans are antibody positive, and no more than 20,000 a year, or 1.5 percent, develop one of these 25 diseases is already an indication that being antibody-positive can't be a big risk factor by itself. And these one or two million Americans include, of course, most of those who have used lots of drugs.