Q: What is the rationale for killing cells as part of AIDS therapy?

 A: Those who sanction AZT say that they don't want to kill cells, they want to interfere with the replication of the virus. Retroviruses make DNA; AZT inhibits DNA synthesis. Everything that is in the process of making DNA will be killed by AZT.


Q: Won't it kill the person who takes it?

 A: It will kill the person. AZT proponents say, 'This is the price you pay for killing the virus.' And they think the benefits are worth that cost.


Q: But government reports have said that AZT prolongs AIDS patients' lives.

 A: I have never seen any such study. That was science by press release. No studies have ever been published to back up those claims. I have asked people in the field, I have written to the New York Times and other papers which repeated the government claims, and I have never gotten an answer. I don't know what to call this type of propaganda.


Q: What do you think of treating AIDS patients with AZT?

 A: I think there is no rational basis for treating any AIDS patient with AZT. The first reason is that we have no proof that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Second, even if we had such proof, the number of infected cells which would be the rational targets for AZT therapy--the sole justification for the therapy, to kill HIV-infected cells--is so incredibly low that the toxicity index will be irresponsibly high. The net result is an incredible attack on the immune system. Which is exactly why you have AIDS, according to the standard definition. So with AZT you'll take out the little bit of the immune system that is left.

Thus, in my opinion, AZT treatment is totally irresponsible. I would be more forgiving if we were talking about a drug like aspirin, which we don't totally understand and which might have some miraculous side effect. But AZT is not one of those drugs. AZT is a drug whose mechanism is embarrassingly clear. There is no possible way you could see a beneficial side effect of a chain terminator of DNA synthesis. I don't see how this could be justified. At all.


Q: If what you say is true, how can people stand by and let this happen?

 A: I have asked myself this question many times. The only answer I can come up with is that they have made this look so confusing and complex that many people say, 'I don't know enough to judge this. In fact, I think that the majority of people who believe in the virus-AIDS hypothesis are totally unaware that the virus is completely latent at the time you get AIDS and infects very, very few cells. People don't check the details of popular dogma or consensus views. I know that many people in the field who have been asked to respond to my scientific papers on the subject say they haven't had the time to read them. Many have said straight out that they won't read them. 'Duesberg's off the wall.' Or: 'He's from Berkeley.'

Another part of it is that most people, even scientists, take their information from the newspapers. Science is really now a popularity contest, made by newspapers. You hype something in the press, and people take it from there. They do not advertise the fact that HIV infects only one in 10,000 cells. If people are really pushed on this point, they come up with a dozen hypotheses that could-but so far don't-explain it.

Finally, I think another reason is that many AIDS scientists have significant commercial interests in companies that are tied to the HIV-AIDS hypothesis. If you open up the AZT question, then the viral cause of AIDS must come up. And that would raise a lot of flack.