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It is an elementary principle of science and medicine that correlation alone is no proof of cause. If A is reported as generally occurring with B, there are four possible explanations: (1) A causes B; (2) B causes A; (3) something else causes both A and B; (4) the correlation is just coincidence or has been artificially exaggerated, e.g. by biased collecting of data. There's no justification in jumping to a conclusion like (1) until the other three have been rigorously eliminated. In the haste to find an infectious agent, Duesberg maintained, the role of HIV had been interpreted the wrong way around. Far from being a common cause of the various conditions called "AIDS," HIV itself was just a "marker" for high-risk groups, who acquired AIDS defining diseases by drug consumption, sex, transfusions and other non-contagious factors, but was not in itself responsible for the health problems that those groups were experiencing. The high correlation between HIV and AIDS that was constantly being alluded to was an artifact of the way in which AIDS was defined: HIV + indicator disease = AIDS Indicator disease without HIV = Indicator disease. So if you've got all the symptoms of TB, and you test positive for HIV, you've got AIDS. But if you have a condition that's clinically indistinguishable and don't test positive for HIV, you've got TB. And that, of course, would have made the problem scientifically and medically trivial. Anatomy of an Epidemic When a scientific theory fails in its predictions, it is either modified or abandoned. Science welcomes informed criticism and is always ready to reexamine its conclusions in the light of new evidence or an alternative argument. The object, after all, is to find out what's true. But it seems that what was going on here wasn't science. Duesberg was met by a chorus of outrage and ridicule, delivered with a level of vehemence that is seldom seen within professional circles. Instead of willingness to reconsider, he was met by stratagems designed to conceal or deny that the predictions were failing. This is the kind of reaction typical of politics, not science, usually referred to euphemistically as "damage control." For example, statistics for new AIDS cases were always quoted as cumulative figures that could only get bigger, contrasting with the normal practice with other diseases of reporting annual figures, where any decline is clear at a glance. And despite the media's ongoing stridency about an epidemic out of control, the actual figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for every category, were declining, and had been since a peak around 1988. This was masked by repeated redefinitions to cover more diseases, so that what wasn't AIDS one day became AIDS the next, causing more cases to be diagnosed. This happened five times from 1982 to 1993, with the result that the first nine months of 1993 showed as an overall rise of 5% what would otherwise--i.e. by the 1992 definition--have been a 33% drop.5 Currently (January, 2003) the number indicator diseases is 29. One of the newer categories 5 Root-Bernstein, 1993 pg. 6 added in 1993 was cervical cancer. (Militant femininists had been protesting that men received too much of the relief appropriations for AIDS victims.) Nobody was catching anything new, but suddenly in one group of the population what hadn't been AIDS one day became AIDS the next, and we had the headlines loudly proclaiming that heterosexual women were the fastest-growing AIDS group. A similar deception is practiced with percentages, as illustrated by figures publicized in Canada, whose population is around 40 million. In 1995, a total of 1410 adult AIDS cases were reported, 1295 (91.8%) males and 115 (8.2%) females. 1996 showed a startling decrease in new cases to 792, consisting of 707 males (89.2%) and 85 females (10.8%). So the number of adult female AIDS cases actually decreased by 26% from 1995 to 1996. Yet, even though the actual number decreased, because the percentage of the total represented by women increased from 8.2% in 1995 to 10.8% in 1996, the Quarterly Surveillance Report (August 1997) from the Bureau of HIV/AIDS and STD at the Canadian Laboratory Centre for Disease Control issued the ominous warning that AIDS cases among Canadian women had dramatically increased.6 Meanwhile, a concerted campaign across the schools and campuses was doing its part to terrorize young people over the ravages of teenage AIDS. Again, actual figures tell a different story. The number of cases in New York City reported by the CDC for ages 13-19 from 1981 to the end of June 1992 were 872. When homosexuals, intravenous drug users, and hemophiliacs are eliminated, the number left not involving these risks (or not admitting to them) reduces to a grand total of 16 in an 11 year period. (Yes, sixteen. You did read that right.)7 The correlation between HIV and AIDS that was repeatedly cited as proving cause was maintained by denying the violations of it. Obviously if HIV is the cause, the disease can't exist without it. (You don't catch flu without having the flu virus.) At a conference in Amsterdam in 1992, Duesberg, who had long been maintaining that dozens of known instances of AIDS patients testing negative for HIV had been suppressed, produced 4,621 cases that he had found in the literature. The response was to define them as a new condition designated Idiopathic CD4+ Lymphocytopenia, or ICL, which is obscurese for "unexplained AIDS symptoms." The figures subsequently disappeared from official AIDS-counting statistics.8 Questioning the Infectious Theory Viral diseases strike typically after an incubation period of days or weeks, which is the time in which the virus can replicate before the body develops an immunity. When this didn't happen for AIDS, the notion of a "slow" virus was introduced, which would delay the onset of symptoms for months. When a year passed with no sign of an epidemic, the number was upped to five years; when nothing happened then either, to ten. Now we're being told ten to fifteen. Inventions to explain failed predictions are invariably a sign of a theory in trouble.