In the case of Gallo's HIV hypothesis, all rules were set aside. Gallo was the big chief, full of confidence, and he was backed by the US Government. Protocol was ignored, and instead of the HIV hypothesis appearing tentatively in some respectable medical journal, it was announced, fully fledged as a fait accompli, in two national newspapers, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. That these two newspapers cater to the centers of the country's financial and political power itself arouses suspicions in what was going on. Why were the New York Times and the San Francisco Examiner not in on it? Be that as it may, it was only several days later, on 19 April 1984, that Gallo's formal announcement appeared in the New Scientist.* The report made no mention of Montagnier's LAV; instead, Gallo claimed he had discovered another altogether new virus called HTLVIII which he stated without fear of contradiction to be the cause of AIDS. (It was only later that HTLVIII was shown to be none other than Professor Montagnier's LAV.)

*The New Scientist is not a medical journal. It is a popular weekly magazine on sale to the general public.

The New Scientist report, which set off the most bizarre sequence of events in medical history, read as follows: "Researchers at America's National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, believe they have finally tracked down the organism that causes Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It is a virus that affects particular cells of the immune system and is called Human T cell Leukemia Virus III (HTLVIII)."

In his book AIDS The HIV Myth (Macmillan, 1989), English journalist Jad Adams described the events that immediately followed the New Scientist report:

"There now occurred one of the strangest tableaux of the entire AIDS story. The Department of Health and Human Services held a press conference in Washington, DC, on April 23 to report on a new virus which had been found by Robert Gallo.

The press conference was held in a small auditorium; too small to hold the reporters and TV crews who attended. Microphones hung round the lectern like fruit weighing down a tree, and scientists crowded onto the tiny stage. Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Margaret Heckler, even introduced a scientist who wasn't there.

Gallo made a grand entrance, as described by David Black: 'He approached the podium like the only kid in the school assembly to have won a National Merit Scholarship. He was fastidiously dressed. None of Sonnabend's (Dr Sonnabend--see Chapter 8 and Chapter 10 ) ratty sweaters and baggy slacks for him. He wore aviator glasses--a Hollywood touch-and his hair was rumpled, but just enough to make it look as if he had recently emerged from handling a crisis. His manner seemed to me condescending, as though he were the Keeper of Secrets obliged to deal with a world of lesser mortals.' The moral seems to be to make sure David Black is your friend before you invite him to your press conference.

Margaret Heckler acknowledged 'other discoveries ... in different laboratories-even in different parts of the world' but the accolade was reserved for the US: 'Today we add another miracle to the long honor roll of American medicine and science.

Heckler said the discovery of the virus would allow the development of a vaccine against AIDS which would be available by 1986. She resigned her post in 1985 and was sent to Ireland as ambassador.

An honorable exception to the shabby behavior of the US media in general was the New York Times which, days before the press conference, featured a story in which credit for the isolation of the virus went to the Pasteur Institute. Later the New York Times commented on the fierce-and prematurefight for credit between scientists and bureaucratic sponsors of research.

One other event occurred on April 23: a patent was filed in the US on a test kit developed by Gallo. The prestige of coming first in the race to grow the virus was now indistinguishable from the financial gain each institute would receive if they could prove they came first. The small matter of proving that the virus actually caused the disease remained."