Proof that HIV Causes AIDS?

Dear Christine,

I'm debating the HIV hypothesis with some colleagues and need to answer to the charge that HIV is present in 100% of AIDS cases, and because it's found in every case of AIDS, this proves HIV is the cause. Is this true? How would you respond to this argument?



Dear Farrell,

With regard to the charge that HIV is present in 100% of AIDS cases and that this proves HIV causes AIDS, here are five points that challenge this idea followed by some detailed information on each point that may help you keep up your end of the debate.

1) HIV was not found in 100% of the original AIDS cases - less than half tested positive for markers used to indicate HIV infection.

2) Since HIV tests cannot identify or quantify the presence of HIV itself, it is not known how many people with AIDS actually have HIV.

3) Public health agency records show thousands of cases of "HIV negative AIDS," and that AIDS diseases commonly occur in people not diagnosed HIV positive.

4) The definition for AIDS requires positive HIV status (by test or assumption) which forces a 100% correlation between HIV and AIDS—a person with AIDS diseases cannot be put in the AIDS category unless s/he meets the "entry requirement" of testing HIV positive.

5) Correlation does not prove causation, just as mere presence at the scene of a crime does not prove criminal behavior.

Here are the details:

1) HIV "co-discoverer" Robert Gallo's original 1984 paper, the one commonly believed to establish HIV as the cause of AIDS, in fact showed that he found positive antibody test response in 88% of AIDS patients, not 100%, and that he found what he characterized as HIV in less than half the AIDS patients he studied.

While this is old news, it's important. According to normal, ethical rules of science, in order to claim a microbe causes a disease, that microbe must be found in 100% of the cases of that disease. Gallo found indirect evidence that he characterized as HIV in only a small portion of AIDS victims. We can't say "Gallo found HIV" because he was not actually able to isolate the virus from any of his AIDS patients. Gallo's inability to find the alleged cause of AIDS in people with AIDS is what led him to appropriate a cell culture supposedly containing HIV sent to his lab by Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasture Institute in France. This swiped cell culture, rather than the true discovery of a new virus, was the basis of the claim made at the 1984 press conference by the US Department of Health and Human Services that "the probable cause of AIDS has been found."

The same day as the press conference, Gallo used proteins he found in Montagnier's culture to file a patent application for the first HIV antibody test. A few weeks later, Gallo's discovery announcement and patent filing became the focus of an international dispute settled by the highest ranking officials in the US and French governments. The agreement they reached gave Gallo and Montagnier credit as co- discoverers. This historical perspective is important because Montagnier later admitted that he was never able to produce a purified sample of HIV. This means that the proteins used to test for HIV antibody response are not specific or unique to HIV.

2) HIV tests do not detect or quantify actual HIV, and are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for diagnosing actual infection with HIV. What we call HIV tests only register antibody response to non-specific proteins or find non-specific genetic material associated with HIV.

HIV tests have never been validated against the direct finding of HIV in any person categorized as HIV positive or diagnosed with AIDS. Instead, the various tests are confirmed against each other. All the HIV tests—whether they use blood, urine, or saliva—use the proteins from Montagnier's unpurified culture as markers for HIV.

Contrary to popular belief, "viral load" tests don’t detect or measure actual virus either. As the literature accompanying the Roche Amplicor Viral Load test states, it "is not intended to be used as a screening test for HIV or as a diagnostic to confirm the presence of HIV infection."

In summary, it is not possible to claim that HIV is present in 100% (or any percent) of AIDS cases as it is not known how many people with AIDS actually have HIV. You may want to alert the people involved in your debate that they can earn a quick $10,000 by providing a published paper evidencing isolation of HIV to journalist Jon Rappoport. Details on how to collect the dough can be found at his web site at

3) AIDS happens without HIV: Prior to 1994, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gathered data on some 4,000 cases of "HIV negative AIDS" in the US; AIDS defining illnesses appeared in the medical literature prior to the advent of HIV; the illnesses designated as AIDS occur in people who are not HIV positive; all AIDS diseases have well established causes that have nothing to do with HIV.

4) Since the 28 AIDS-defining illnesses are only defined as AIDS when they happen to people who test HIV positive, it's clear why there would be a 100% correlation between HIV and AIDS. These diseases can only be called AIDS when they happen to someone labeled HIV positive even though they can and do occur in people considered HIV negative. This circular logic renders the argument "HIV causes AIDS because it's present in 100% of AIDS cases" meaningless. The 100% correlation between HIV and AIDS is an artifact of the definition of AIDS. Here is one example you may wish to use for your debate: Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious health threat to impoverished people in the US and to the populations of many developing countries. Worldwide, TB takes millions of lives every year. Although TB is caused by mycobacteria tuberculosis and not by HIV, since 1987, people with TB who also test positive on an "HIV test" receive a diagnosis of AIDS. As you may know, TB existed prior to its inclusion as an AIDS-defining illness in 1987 and was described in the medical literature in the early 1900s.

To further clarify the point of the circular definition, take a look at cervical cancer and candida. These AIDS-defining conditions are commonly found among people in non-AIDS risk groups who do not "have HIV." Despite the fact that over 90% of women with cervical cancer are not HIV positive, cervical cancer is called AIDS in women who do test HIV positive. Although 30% of all Americans are thought to suffer from chronic candida (John Hightower, MD "The Yeast Connection") and candida is caused by a bacterial imbalance, not HIV, candida is called AIDS in a person who tests HIV positive.

5) For the sake of discussion, let's assume that positive reactions on the non-specific HIV tests indicate the presence of HIV and that all AIDS diseases occur only in people who test positive. These finding alone would not be sufficient to establish HIV as the cause of AIDS. Correlation alone does not prove causation, just as being present at the scene of a crime does not prove criminal behavior. Without proper scientific evidence that HIV can and does cause the conditions known as AIDS, we cannot know if HIV is anything more than "a witness" to AIDS. Here's an example borrowed from a science class of how we shouldn't confound correlation with causation: Technicians note that during every electric power failure, birds and other small animals are sitting on power lines, but from this observation alone they could not reasonably conclude that birds and small animals are responsible for the power failures. In other words, presence isn't enough to prove causation.

I hope all this helps!



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