How a Virus That Never Was Deceived the World

is the subtitle of Neville Hodgkinson's book AIDS The Failure of Contemporary Science published late in 1996 by Fourth Estate.

This piece is a transcription of a (not-fully-prepared) interview with Neville by Rae West, carried out in 1997. I've added a few notes in square brackets. It begins though with Neville arranging a talk. ... —RW

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“There’s a wider issue. We’ve been led to believe the scientific method, in a pure sense, is the best way of getting information. I believed in that in a fairly simplistic way myself for many decades. But this particular issue shows how inner agendas, unacknowledged agendas, of scientists as human beings, interfere with their ability to assess the facts in an objective way. It’s a sort of mass pathology. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to now.
      It’s a very interesting issue. The way the scientific community has treated these dissidents within their ranks really has been quite extraordinary. I hadn’t realised that they could behave in such a sort of narrow way. I hadn’t seen it at first hand in this way. I’d heard stories, you now. But people that I know well, and have a lot of respect for, have been extruded from communicating with the mainstream. It’s been remarkable.
      In fact at one time Nature magazine, which is a sort of Bible of science, announced a campaign to try to stop me from reporting on these lines in the Sunday Times. They ran an editorial contemplating sending pickets to our offices, decided that was impractical, and decided instead to create a sort of campaign of ridicule. It created quite a stink, actually.
      This book was vetted by a top virologist in this country and I received training from virologists in basic molecular biology. I wouldn’t have been able to carry the critique without that.
      They might well find some holes in what I’m saying. That’s OK. But I hope there’ll be something there for them to find of interest and challenge. The only things that I’ve found frustrating have been when people just blast you with statements. Some TV or radio programmes have been like this, where one says something and they just say, ‘well, that’s rubbish, because x, y, and z’. And you know all the assertions they’re making are wrong. When that happens, and in the context of TV and radio, there’s no opportunity for dialogue. What I would hope would be that this would be an opportunity for dialogue, rather than people just stating contrary opinions. I don’t mind a person expressing that view, and saying why, providing one has an opportunity to say something in response. But in these TV and radio things, especially ten-minute interviews, if they have other people there for so-called balance, it means you just don’t get anything across at all. I did do the Target programme; that was good. That was a half-hour programme. They have someone who’s a target, you know. I don’t mind that, because there was an opportunity to reply.
      I’ve been studying this for about four years now, almost full-time. It’s the only way to do it. I couldn’t hope to persuade anyone! All I could do is give some pointers to those who were interested that there was more to it than they’d been allowed to understand from what most media had reported.
      A gentle title—AIDS, an alternative view, something like that. A controversial point of view, something like that. Neville Hodgkinson, former medical and science correspondent on the Sunday Times. Author of the book, AIDS—the Failure of Contemporary Science. You could say that I’m going to tell my experiences in reporting on this very, er, emotional? Controversial? Emotive. Subject, from a controversial point of view. Something like that. Reporting on a challenge to mainstream scientific opinion. Challenges to mainstream scientific opinion. Mention that Nature one time tried to silence me. .. All right, fine..”

West: Can I do a bit of scene-setting. I’m now sitting in Ivor Catt’s palatial residence with Ivor, and the famous Neville Hodgkinson. And in case posterity’s interested, he’s wearing a thick creamy crew-neck pullover, brown cords, and what used to be called brothel creepers—desert boots. And he has matching light brown hair and glasses, but not eyes, which are blue. So there we are. OK. Now.
      The first thing is I think you’re probably right. Not that I’m a great expert on biology—I got deviated into this stuff by Ivor, who’s collected a huge list of people, some good, some not so good. I mentioned Harold Hillman, who’s going to be at the lecture this evening
Hodgkinson: Great
West: His experience matches, or maps as Ivor would say, yours. His approach is kind of analytical and scientific—he looked into the assumptions being made in various techniques like electron microscopy, and analysed six of them, and found essentially what you have—that there’s a whole lot of essentially fraudulent experimentation going on, which assumes results which are not properly validated and checked. And it permeates the whole of biology. That was his explanation of why there’s been so little progress in cancer research, and why things like epilepsy are not understood. And also things which I found absolutely incredible—for example, no-one has any idea how anaesthetics work. It’s all empirical. So that’s our starting point. Harold is not an expert in virology, unfortunately. He’s very careful to compartmentalise things so that he doesn’t make statements he can get shot down about. He’s had that experience—he’s written about six books. One of them on research into the brain. He thinks the conventional models of the brain are wrong; his work is based on microscopy—he goes and looks. I think he’s probably right about that. He’s published on something like ten subjects. So from my point of view your work is a something of a supplement to that. He’s going to be at the lecture this evening. (He often rejects people if they’re not scientific enough. But if you use the word ‘hypothesis’ at one point he’ll probably like you, because it shows you can distinguish between theoretical constructions and what’s actually observed. That’s if you want to talk to him—it could be very fruitful.) He’s had exactly the same experiences as you—addressing meetings, well, having difficulty in getting meetings arranged in the first place, and when he addressed them, of their being very hostile. Unfortunately it has to be said he puts his book in the mould of scientific papers; they aren’t very readable. I got into AIDS via Ivor, and borrowed your book from the library—
Hodgkinson: It’s a bit expensive, actually. I was a bit surprised myself
West: Wasn’t that arranged with you?
Hodgkinson: No, they didn’t tell me what it was going to be. I think the publishers were a bit uncertain about whether they would be able to cover their costs. I remember them saying—I went to a sales meeting some months before publication—that they had absolutely no idea what would happen to it. It was quite courageous of them to do it, actually.
West: Is it published just in Britain or in the US?
Hodgkinson: No. Only in Britain
West: It’s a shame
Hodgkinson: Yes, it is
West: Is it going to be a paperback, or does that depend on sales?
Hodgkinson: It would do. I think there probably will be. I don’t think they feel the debate has got going enough yet
West: The reason I ask is that Jad Adams’s book only sold 2,000 copies
Hodgkinson: Did it?
West: Well, I mean that was the print run. There was no paperback issued. And yet I get the impression that’s a popular book. I ordered it from the library and it took about four or five months—
Hodgkinson: It’s some years ago that it came out—
West: Oh yes! It’s eight or nine years old now. Even so—you have these sheets of paper with the dates stamped in, so you can assess how popular they were. It was an awful lot. In spite of that he never got a paperback—perhaps because of pressure being put on them. So that might be your fate as well
Hodgkinson: Yes. It might well be that it will just work away quietly as probably Jad’s has done. But publishers, you know, in order to invest in a print-run, they want to know that there’s a demand out there. Anyway, I remember them telling me there were three categories of outcome. One was that it’d be completely ignored. One was that there would be a certain amount of discussion. And one would be that it would be at the centre of a big stink—that there would be lots of interest. And it’s really fallen into the middle category. It’s been quite widely ignored—I was surprised. I thought there would be more interest in a serious work that actually reports quite a lot of new material. It moves the story on from what had been previously reported, too. [The book, I presume, is out of print; BOL reports it as 'not available', Amazon doesn't even list it.] But I think maybe one reason is that it became very associated with the Sunday Times and indeed with Andrew Neil. And with Andrew Neil going and the Sunday Times changing tack on the issue—in fact hiring as my successor the number one critic in the journalistic field on what I’d done previously—
West: Who was that?
Hodgkinson: Steve Connor. Who, when he was science correspondent at the Independent papers, was doing enormous articles saying it’s disgraceful that the Sunday Times should say this, that HIV is set to decimate Africa, it’s—
West: Thailand now. Tomorrow’s World had a programme..
Hodgkinson: Thailand? They’ve been rumbled in Africa. The HIV industry has actually shot its bolt there, in a way,. Now Asia—
West: Are you saying that for example people in Zimbabwe are kicking these people out?
Hodgkinson: Yes, because they know—many of the Sunday Times articles that I filed from Africa were reprinted in the African countries. And also virologists and others that I met out there, including virologists and health ministers, they already suspected that it was very flawed, the model that they’d been given by the HIV marketeers, and just drawing their attention to some of the studies that challenged the HIV thinking was enough for them really to see through it quite quickly.
West: That’s good news. In a way I’m surprised though—I remember a South Place lecture by a chap I think from the WHO and he was going on in great distress about how AZT is too expensive for these people to afford!
Hodgkinson: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean the New African magazine has taken up this issue very well. That circulates across Africa. They ran several pages on this. I remember—I think it was in the second issue—when they printed a very pained response from an AIDS worker in South Africa challenging the report, but they also ran a reply by me. But in the same issue, they ran an article about how the World Bank was offering loans to third world countries to allow them to buy AZT. You know, it’s unbelievable really, the topsy turvy nature of what was happening. And this ins in countries where, you know, babies are being thrown out of hospital and mothers thrown out of their homes because they tested positive with a test that’s never been validated. I mean it’s really quite horrifying what’s happened.
      [Chapter 10, The Plague That Never Was, looks in particular at the work and findings of the couple Philippe and Evelyne Krynen in Africa. And the statistics—for example, the prediction of mass deaths based on just five deaths. And the way in which deaths were ascribed to AIDS because of the links with aid money.]
West: OK. I’m afraid I had a rather bad day and didn’t prepare properly—I like to prepare a script with a lot of questions. I got the impression a lot of your work is based on Eleopulos [Eleni Papadopulos Eleopulos]
Hodgkinson: Most recently, yes
West: Was that through Caton?
Hodgkinson: No. I think he wrote after we first started reporting the challenge that Peter Duesberg had put forward in the States. No. I know who it was through. It was through Harvey Bialy, who was scientific editor of Bio/Technology at the time. He’s a doctorate—I forget in what.
West: He’s keen on the free radical idea is he? My evidence suggests that’s a dubious idea. It’s hard to check—
Hodgkinson: He was interested initially because he studied what Duesberg was saying about how hard to find HIV was even in AIDS patients. He studied the literature from that perspective, and had done one or two things that were open-minded towards Duesberg. But then he published a paper by the Eleopulos Group, which was the first one where they really set out the fact, as I see it, that the HIV test had never been validated, that it had never been tested against virus isolation, the gold standard for establishing the diagnostic base.
West: Would you say that was their starting point, or was it because they’d developed their own theory and felt inclined to debunk it?
Hodgkinson: No, no. I mean—yes, in a sense Eleopulos had a particular theory in the area of cell function. She published something in Cell, or the Journal of Biology, I forget which. One of the very key, major papers. A hypothesis about cell function which, when AIDS came on the scene, it suggested to her that it was a phenomenon associated with this mechanism she’d written about. And so she did have that predisposition to questioning the viral theory—
West: That’s fair enough, isn’t it
Hodgkinson: It is. But she then became interested in the field, and it was really the evidence she presented on the inadequacies of the HIV test were really quite devastating. But there was no discussion of them.
West: These were the Elisa and the Western Blot?
Hodgkinson: Yes, that’s right
West: Have you ever seen these done, as a matter of interest? It’s very difficult to actually penetrate the inner sancta, isn’t it. Or even the outer sancta!
Hodgkinson: Yes, it is. I’ve seen the kits, and I’ve seen the slides that are made up for the western blot, but I’ve never followed the procedure right through.
West: You now, as part of my—I’ve got a whole collection of old books, because you can often trace the roots of these things going back donkeys years, in some cases centuries. I looked up this book on viruses written in the 60s (because electron microscopy is a key part in the drama, invented say about the mid-1940s, there was a huge explosion so to speak—the application was never validated. If you’ve got living things and in order to look at them it’s like putting them inside a giant TV—they have to be dehydrated, and there has to be a vacuum, and they have to be chopped finely and have metal deposited on them—by the time you’ve done all this the original structure is deformed…) Anyway. The point is viruses are too small to be seen by optical microscopes so you have this incredible possibility. In the first place, you can’t be sure what you’re looking at. Do you see what I mean?
Hodgkinson: Yes
West: Suppose somebody’s got a cold and you want to establish it’s a viral disease, you get a drop of blood or something and put it under the electron microscope and you get a lot of speckles that weren’t there before. They’ve got several standard ways of preparing these things—e.g. Tobacco mosaic virus gives a silky preparation. But much of it is impossible to check. So what you say certainly sounds right
Hodgkinson: This problem is central to the challenge that the Eleopulos group have mounted, where they’re claiming, astoundingly, that HIV has never been isolated, and in their view, doesn’t even exist.
West: It’s difficult to know isn’t it. I went to a talk aimed at schoolkids to get them to go into science. One was by a Professor Crawford at the School of Tropical Diseases. She gave a standard trot-through which could have been done thirty years ago—on papilloma viruses and things, Epstein-Barr. And there was a picture saying, this is an AIDS virus. I don’t know what she thought that was or where it came from. Of course they all look the same—octagon or dodecahedron. You’ve got the same problem with these protein tests..
Hodgkinson: For some decades it’s been accepted that retroviruses, of which HIV is supposed to be one, will band at certain density gradient in that centrifugation process—
West: They use sucrose, don’t they
Hodgkinson: They do, yes. And there’s a particular band which they spin the material out to that, and select the material banded at that point, and then look under the electron microscope at what they’ve got there. And although there are photographs of what are purported to be AIDS virus particles in the blood and from your stimulated materials before you’ve done that process, there are no photographs of AIDS virus particles isolated at that band after the centrifugation.
West: Despite the fact that they believe it’s there?
Hodgkinson: They believe it’s there, but there are no photographs of it. None.
West: Why do they believe it’s there? Any rational reason?
Hodgkinson: Because the theory says that HIV is a retrovirus
West: Yes, I see
Hodgkinson: And that’s where retroviruses are supposed to be. And you can find some genetic sequences there, but you find a whole pool of genetic sequences there, form short to long. What they’ve done is they’ve pulled out of some of this centrifuged material genetic sequences which match the purported length of a retrovirus. You know, there’s a kind of convention about this. They said, OK, well we’ve got some sequences of this length, therefore they must be HIV. But the problem with that is you have a mass of other material there as well, and you don’t actually find photographs of whole virus particles.
West: That sounds absolutely right. One of Hillman’s critiques was of subcellular fractionation And of course what they do is grind the stuff up, in a sort of Magimix, and assume stuff doesn’t interact. But if you mix up all kinds of enzymes in an animal and chop the cells up so the cell walls are breached there’s no end of possibilities..
Hodgkinson: Exactly. In fact this is another extraordinary thing—even the mainstream acknowledges they’ve never been able to find HIV particles in ordinary body samples. They always have to be treated. They sort of kick start the genes inside the immune cells into expressing&'151;
West: You get the same thing with this business of them mutating all the time. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you say it must have mutated!
Hodgkinson: That’s right, yes. It’s stated in the orthodoxy on HIV that there are no two HIVs the same. And yet this is said to be a unique molecular entity! It’s quite extraordinary!
West: How do you—when I’ve been trying to establish these things, for example that anaesthetics;’ method of operation isn’t known, I found it so incredible I repeat the question several times just to check. You must do this, I presume? Some of these things, when you first become aware of them, seem incredible; so you must ask people several times? I imagine people like Gallo would not reply to you
Hodgkinson: No. That’s right. I’ve talked to—fortunately in science there’s a lot of source material, you can study the latest books and so on. Unfortunately the downside of it is that you find that what they say on HIV and AIDS changes every few months. It’s like a moving target. There are lots of different theories, and again this is further evidence—and actually this is widely accepted within the scientific community—that really, although everyone will say, yes, we have established that HIV is the cause of AIDS—the vast majority of scientists have bought into that statement—but people working in the field will say, there are huge uncertainties, we really don’t know quite what we’re dealing with, we definitely think there’s an entity there, we definitely think it’s the cause of AIDS, we’ve enough pointers to it from the fact that we seem to see HIV positivity, antibodies to HIV in so many of the people in risk groups, in so many of those who go on to get AIDS, we feel that the case has been made. But they’ll admit, and they’re right about the fact that they don’t know, they’ve no idea how HIV could cause the destruction of the immune cells. There’s no mechanism by, the viruses zapping off the cells. There’s hardly any of it there anyway.
West: The immune system itself is not understood anyway, is it. That’s another problem.
Hodgkinson: That’s another problem. And as a matter of fact one of the really fascinating things for me in this whole affair is that if only we were to apply a different template to the information that all these billions of dollars have given us to what is called HIV, with a different framework I think there could be some very interesting discoveries from it. One of which is the mobility of the genes inside the immune system. It’s another—
West: When you say genes in the immune system, what do you mean by that?
Hodgkinson: The immune system cells, the T cells, the lymphocytes. In order to program themselves to the infinite range of antigens that come into the body—
West: The antigen’s the reply isn’t it?
Hodgkinson: No, the antigen is what stimulates the response by the immune cells.
West: What’s the response called?
Hodgkinson: The antibody. The antigen generates the antibody production
West: Right
Hodgkinson: And the genes in the immune cells are involved in this process—the genetic machinery of the immune cells actually looks at the target and produces something appropriate, and multiplies it up. It’s one of the fascinating things of the story that genes are not the fixed machinery that we might learn in O level biology. They multiply up, they leave cells, they can even move as particles to other cells. There’s really quite strong evidence—also regarded as heretical by people like John Maddox of Nature—that some of these adaptive responses by the genes can actually travel to the germ line. They can travel to the sperm and the egg, and be passed on that way.
West: Um, that would be Lamarckian—
Hodgkinson: Yes, it is Lamarckian.
West: It’s very difficult to say, isn’t it. The whole basis of this stuff is so corroded with rubbish—
Hodgkinson: Well, you know, there’s some good work! There’s a chap called Ted Steele who’s been working away at this for years at the University of Wollongong—
West: Wollongong! You must know Brian Martin then.
Hodgkinson: No
West: He’s an activist chap who’s published onCATT: Fraud
West: Well, yes. And for example. anti-fluoridation. He was opposed to nuclear weapons, nuclear power. Interesting chap...
Hodgkinson: There’s a story there, too. The concept of jumping genes, which is basically where genetic sequences can multiply themselves up within a cell and move from one chromosome to another. That’s within the cell. That concept was vigorously resisted for decades by the scientific community
West: It was a woman who thought of it, wasn’t it?
Hodgkinson: Margaret McClintock. She got the Nobel Prize for it just before she died.
West: Nobel Prizes! I think—well, this is another of Hillman’s things. He thinks they get awarded for all sorts of rubbish. And of course once they’re awarded, that sort of validates it—
Hodgkinson: That’s right.
West: I really don’t understand why, unless it’s just money, why a bunch of Swedes should dominate—
Hodgkinson: I know. It’s simplicity. You know—it takes so much work to get into these refined areas of science to the point where you can begin to understand something, that you can’t hope to understand the whole field—so we just say, oh well, they won the Nobel Prize, I suppose it must be all right
West: It’s analogous for example to things like film. One gathers in America if you go to a film party, they get the papers first thing in the morning, if the critics don’t like it they just melt away. You know, because they don’t have any judgement of their own. They take what’s given
Hodgkinson: It must be even more so in these basic areas of molecular science.
West: Mind you, of course, there’s the money making thing; and also the banding-together business-I keep finding these things. You know the well-established fact that prostitutes have more cervical cancer than virgins. Everybody knows that! There’s a chap in Dublin five or ten years ago who looked up the papers, some going back to 1850 or something, and he found there was no evidence for it at all. It was unsubstantiated!
Hodgkinson: Skrabanek
West: Skrabanek! You know him!
Hodgkinson: I’ve met him!
West: Really? He’s dead now, isn’t he, unfortunately. The only reason I’ve heard of him is because Hillman mentioned him in one of his papers. He has a book now jointly-authored by McCormick.
Hodgkinson: Yes. I did some reports in the Sunday Times on his thinking on breast cancer.
West: That must have made you unpopular!
Hodgkinson: Oh, very! He demonstrated very satisfactorily that there’s no evidence whatever of benefit of screening for breast cancer. It was unanswerable. Absolutely unanswerable. And remains so to this day. In fact, rather like self examination, there’s a definite increase in risk on behalf of the people who do self-examine (it may not be directly causal. It may be that the people who do self-examine are more vulnerable) but I actually believe that there’s probably a risk, there’s evidence there is some risk, from the mammography process. The people who have this exposure to X rays, get it regularly they’re more at risk from breast cancer..
West: Did you speak to Alice Stewart?
Hodgkinson: Yes. Wonderful lady. She was at Cambridge. That’s all I can remember. It was years back. I think I was talking to her about, it might have been her, the damaging effect on medical students of the heartless things they were asked to do. She felt it blunted their emotional intelligence, as we should call it.
West: Are you talking about things like dissection?
Hodgkinson: Yes. And vivisection.
West: She was credited—I remember when I was young that you could go into shoe shops and they had X ray machines; you could see your toes twiddle around. She was the first on to that, or at least she got the credit in Britain—in each country you get your own localised variants. The Americans credit other people. How did you get onto Skrabanek? Perhaps he wrote to you; he was quite an active letter-writer?
Hodgkinson: I can’t remember now. But I had quite a bit of dealing with him over a long period because I was interested in his challenge to a lot of the stuff on cholesterol and heart disease, too.
West: Do you have a natural tendency to find these critics? Is it a good story? Or is it because it’s true?
Hodgkinson: Yeh. I mean there were so many things that I looked at, there wasn’t a good enough case, so I wouldn’t report it. But definitely the Sunday Times under Andrew Neil, and myself in that area, did sort of click. Andrew Neil liked stories that challenged conventional thinking, and he was very pleased to receive stories of that kind. I did a lot
West: From your point of view he was a good editor?
Hodgkinson: I thought he was an excellent editor. From my point of view the—
West: You had a free rein, presumably?
Hodgkinson: Increasingly. And especially on this AIDS issue, yes. I mean, my earlier years as medical correspondent, that’s when I did these quite a lot of things challenging the cholesterol theory. We did a wonderful thing tweaking the tail of Flora and about polyunsaturates and all that craze.
West: Did you speak to [D. F.] Horrobin at all?
Hodgkinson: Yes. Yes.
West: You did? Quite an impressive character..
Hodgkinson: Yes, he is. In fact he’s got some trials under way—I don’t know he’s getting on—with the use of antioxidants in AIDS patients. You know, that’s his whole evening primrose oil..
West: I think he faced some competition in the shape of borage oil or something. [In fact, starflower.] Someone found another plant which was found to contain even more gamma linoleic acid or whatever it is. I went to a lecture by him, a very good one—
Hodgkinson: He still edits Medical Hypotheses.
West: Well, he founded it, didn’t he. It was his. Do you read that? I’ve only seen isolated bits—
Hodgkinson: No.
West: It might make very good reading. That’s where Eleopulos was published first, wasn’t it?
Hodgkinson: Yes, she’s had one paper published there.
West: And of course that would irk the establishment wouldn’t it. I don’t know if you know the story—Horrobin got started on that when he was a researcher, I think into Valium. I think it was Roche
Hodgkinson: As I remember it, what upset him was the way they went about answering his criticisms. By trying to get him removed from his faculty in Canada. I think he was working in Canada at the time.
      [He found that diazepam (valium) activates, not causes, cancer.—see Martindale's Pharmacopoeia]
West: I was very impressed by him. He’s improved his image too—
Hodgkinson: He’s worked very solidly over the years to authenticate some of that thinking, especially on the fatty acid pathways—
West: Harold was very impressed that he published someone with the contrary view. I think it was on topical eczema, it’s supposed to be beneficially affected by this gamma linoleic acid, because there’s some kind of metabolic pathway they can’t use; but he published an article saying that wasn’t true. Harold was bowled over by that. So he’s an impressive character. What about Bryan Ellison? Do you know him? Have you met him?
Hodgkinson: A little bit. I haven’t really got to know him. I think I spoke briefly on the phone—
West: He’s a bit uncontactable, isn’t he. He doesn’t even have an email number.
Hodgkinson: I don’t know. I felt a little bit uncomfortable on reading his book, in the sense that his anger is so great. He sees things in terms of deliberate plots more than I do. That for me makes him a little hard to accept everything as it comes, but I think he did some marvellous work. He worked very hard with Peter Duesberg. He studied very intently, and I think one of his conclusions, one of the things I took from his book which I didn’t find in Peter’s book, was his challenge t the whole concept of retroviruses as pathogenic agents. And this- (I was telling Ivor earlier- I think this goes too far for Duesberg. Because his place in society, even though a lot of it’s been ripped away, he still has his history as California scientist of the year, outstanding investigator for the NIH et cetera, and that was based on playing the game with this retrovirus concept.
West: I think Ellison, according to something I downloaded six months ago, regards Duesberg as being—not a pawn of the establishment, exactly; but having re-entered the establishment
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: In fact, he thinks the main credit to all this anti-AIDS stuff is to
Hodgkinson: Lauritsen? John Lauritsen
West: Yes, Lauritsen.
Hodgkinson: I’ve met him, too.
West: Oh have you?
Catt: He’s been everywhere hasn’t he!
Hodgkinson: Oh yes! On this AIDS issue!
Catt: That’s because of Andrew Neil. I mean, you might be good, but you’re also lucky, aren’t you!
Hodgkinson: Yes, I am! Very lucky.
West: Lauritsen was a market researcher, basically, wasn’t he? He maintained that market research is better than science, because there’s money in it!
Hodgkinson: Yes! There’s a chapter on him in the book, actually. I liked him. He’s got, I give quite a good description of him as he came across to me.
West: Didn’t he write Death Rush?
Hodgkinson: Yes. He co-authored it with Hank someone or other [Wilson]..
West: Isn’t he a homosexual himself?
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: So he’s got an emotional thing—
Hodgkinson: Sort of, yes. He’s a very cool character.
Catt: Is he in New York?
Hodgkinson: When I met him he was in New York. He had a most disgusting flat. I mean disgusting in one sense: it didn’t look as if it had ever been cleaned and it smelled somewhat. It was totally books and papers. You know, you just had to fight your way through—
West: I think we know the kind of thing—
Catt: We’ve got two of them!
Hodgkinson: Absolutely fascinating. You came in. There was a tiny little pathway between these acres of books and files. There was a piano hidden behind all of these things just on the far wall. And then you came across the wall here, which was filthy. It looked out on Greenwich Village. There was a computer with papers all around it. Just a tiny little space and his whole life was in this computer, grabbing the papers that he needed. He was completely oblivious to anything else. Anything but the HIV story, the scandal of what was happening in this area of science. The scandal—I mean, he’s come to terms with his own anger on this quite well. I’ve seen him over the years. I first met him in 1992 at the Amsterdam AIDS Conference. He was in a state—you know, you could see his blood pressure—
West: Was that an official one, or oppositional?
Hodgkinson: That was the first alternative AIDS conference. Montagnier and Duesberg both spoke at that. It was a very interesting event. But poor old Lauritsen was there, and he was just apoplectic. It made it very difficult to listen to him. Because, you know, when people are saying they’re murderers, there should be a Nuremberg trial to hang them
Catt: Hang whom? Which side?
Hodgkinson: The AZT scientists. The people who were peddling these drugs. He was so enraged. He was so absolutely distressed that this junk science was killing thousands of people from within the community that he had some identification with, too. But, you know, it made it very hard to listen to him or take him seriously. You could see that he was a person with integrity, but you didn’t know quite how much his rage was getting in the way—
West: Am I right in saying he was the first one to expose the inadequacies of this AZT thing? A-Zee-T I suppose they’d say.
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: Just on commonsense grounds, I mean
Hodgkinson: Yes. He was writing on this issue right from 1984 in the New York Native
Catt: He was the first to say AZT is toxic?
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: And he got this from the original papers? [Of the 'Concorde Trial' of AZT]
Hodgkinson: Yes. He used the Freedom of Information Act to get papers from the original researchers that demonstrated that it was fraudulent science that lay behind the claims to AZT. He demonstrated it very satisfactorily.
Catt: He was the first to say it was what you might call iatrogenic?
Hodgkinson: Yes. His expression was ‘iatrogenic genocide’.
West: So it wasn’t just the published papers. He had to burrow as well..
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: Do you think he deserves the credit? Is that a fair estimate?
Hodgkinson: Oh yes, very much so. I think he’s a hero of this whole thing. Definitely. Very much so.
West: That was certainly what Ellison implied.
Hodgkinson: Oh yes. Definitely. He was—right from the start, he was challenging devastatingly the claims being made by the Centers for Disease Control, about AIDS being caused by a virus even before the HIV theory was up and running, he was presenting some very good questioning reports. I remember one of the things he did—I’ve written about this but I don’t know if I can get it verbally quite right, it’s some time since I did it. He showed how the way they tabulated the early AIDS cases biased everything towards a viral theory. It was like, they would say, let’s say 70% of the cases were gay, 20% of the cases were drug users, and 10% were transfusion patients. He pointed out that by tabulating them in that way they were excluding the fact that about 99% of the 77% who were gay were also drug users. So the way they were presenting the data from the beginning was biasing it against drug use as a primary cause, which was his belief, that what was really new in the AIDs epidemic, in his community, and in New York City and elsewhere generally, was this epidemic of drug use. His conviction was that was the cause of AIDS
West: He invented the popper theory, didn’t he, or promoted it?
Hodgkinson: Yes, he co-authored that book—
West: -the connection with Kaposi’s—
Hodgkinson: Yes. I think it’s pretty widely accepted now. And it’s accepted that there’s no trace of HIV in Kaposi’s cells. There’s various other theories put forward about Kaposi’s and other viruses. But that was one of two AIDS-defining illnesses. But now the mainstream has accepted—they’ve been forced to accept—that HIV isn’t causing Kaposi’s. Although there are all sorts of other argument—playing some part in making you more vulnerable.
West: The other argument [in addition to drug causation argument] was that there was just a huge amount more of sexual activity. I don’t know if that’s true, but you certainly get the impression that homosexuals became a lot more promiscuous at that time.
Hodgkinson: Well, the drug use was almost inextricable from the promiscuity. The poppers were used as an aphrodisiac. They were used to relax the anal sphincter. They were also used as a high, you know, a rush of blood and prolonged erections and so forth.
West: There was a very good passage in Ellison’s book about gay discos with flashing lights telling you when they were going to distribute the stuff. And a paragraph with a huge list of drugs.
      [Ellison's list I find was taken from Larry Kramer (p 179 of Ellison's 1994 book; following is verbatim): 'MDA, MDM, THC, PCP, STP, DMT, LDK, WDW, Coke, Window Pane, Blotter, Orange Sunshine, Sweet Pea, Sky Blue, Christmas Tree, Mescalin, Dust, Benzedrine, Dexedrine, Dexamyl, Desoxyn, Strychnine, Ionamin, Ritalin, Desbutal, Opitol, Glue, Ethyl Chloride, Nitrous Oxide, Crystel Methedrine, Clogidal, Nesperan, Tytch, Nestex, Black Beauty, Certyn, Preludin with B-12, Zayl, Qaalude, Tuinal, Nembutal, Seconal, Amytal, Phenobarb, Elavit, Valium, Librium, Darvon, Mandrax, Opium, Stodyl, Halidax, Calcifyn, Optimil, Drayl.']
Hodgkinson: Yes. With gay lib in the 70s particularly, one of the really promiscuous gay men, who’s dead now, I interviewed him in London—
West: Did he write a play?
Hodgkinson: Michael Callen. No, Larry Kramer you’re thinking of. Michael Callen campaigned for many years after his AIDS diagnosis. He was diagnosed in 1983 or 4, and he only died a couple of years back. He wrote an article in the New York Native back in 83, before the HIV theory. It was headlined ‘We know who we are.’ It was him and Richard Berkowitz. Two gay men say why they felt that they had got AIDS, because both of them had an AIDS diagnosis. Basically they were saying back in the 70s with gay lib every sexual partner you had was like striking a blow for your freedom. It was like a political statement.
West: I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened with heterosexuals, with the pill. Although it wasn’t my personal experience—
Hodgkinson: I mean, it was phenomenal. There was a 10,000 club! The mean number of partners—
West: Who kept count? Was there an official census—
Hodgkinson: I know. It’s a bit hard to take, isn’t it. But Michael Callen did do an assessment. He showed us how, by the age of 26, he reckoned he’d had more than 3,000 sex partners. He totted it up and showed how he arrived at that. I remember saying to him—this was when I was still investigating—and I asked him if HIV wasn’t the cause of AIDS, what was? And he said, you try having 3,000 men up your butt by the time you’re 26 and not get sick.
West: What do you think of the syphilis theory? That was quite widely promoted by people like Caton. [Sonnabend was first I think.] Apparently syphilis is hard to diagnose, or at least it shows itself in protean ways which you can easily overlook. I don’t know if that figures in your approach—
Hodgkinson: Yes. I’ve mentioned it. It’s possible.
West: I mean, I had great doubts whether AIDS exists at all in any serious sense. But then I met a chap at a microscopical club who was a homosexual. He was a lecturer in biochemistry, actually. And his partner—he’d retired, he was 65-ish, a big beefy bloke. He had a picture of his dead partner who looked a timid young type. I inferred he was the ‘receptive’ one. Presumably you agree there’s some kind of—semen or something—
Hodgkinson: Plays a part, yes, definitely. There’s definitely evidence that receptive partners are much, much more at risk of AIDS than exclusively dominant partners.
West: And that what AIDS is, presumably. From our point of view, its something that receptive partners get. I presume females could get it too if they did a lot of buggery. That’s what it is; that’s AIDS.
Hodgkinson: Well. Where it exists, it’s a new syndrome. I think that’s so. Plus this heavy drug use. You see, there weren’t—I don’t think you’d get Kaposi’s from anal sex, even pigging out on anal sex.
West: Sure
Hodgkinson: I that the drugs were playing a very important part, the nitrite inhalants especially.
West: It’s supposed to be concentrated on their throat area, isn’t it. I mean that’s not exactly proof, but—
Hodgkinson: They were, yes. The first lesions were on the tongue, and the throat. Lesions in the mouth. And also, I reported in the book, evidence from Professor Dennis Parke, who was on a committee for toxicology for many years—
West: Which one?
Hodgkinson: A British government one. Back in the 1970s, in St Mary’s, he saw cases of what later came to be called AIDS. And their conclusion at the time was that the nitrite inhalants were causing this. And he said the nitrites strip the lungs of glutathione, which is the lung cells prime protection against oxidation, against oxidants. The glutathione is the protective substance. The nitrites leave the lungs vulnerable to the microbes that are around—
West: Did they get their supplies from the stuff that was given out to—
Hodgkinson: People with heart problems? No. It was growing in the late 70s, the popper craze
West: Like purple hearts and things?
Hodgkinson: It was specifically the gay community poppers were a very specifically gay thing originally.
West: My brother told me he knew someone who tried one as a sort of experiment, and what happened was his heart beat very fast. I don’t know about the anal thing—perhaps he didn’t choose to mention that. I think they’ve worked out how it operates—I think nitric oxide has had some role worked out, perhaps reliably, though I forget the details. That’s related to nitrites of course. As you say, this kind of stuff has infiltrated into conventional science, hasn’t it. When people see Kaposi’s, they think poppers.
Hodgkinson: Well, I don’t know. But at last—you know, one of the awful things about an area of science like the HIV story is because the basic foundations of this story were shaky, and yet the scientific community went for it, in a big way, and so did politicians and government health advisers and so on, when you have what is really an emperor’s new clothes state of affairs, anything that threatens the status of that theory, is automatically extruded. People just don’t want to know, no mater how important it might be. I remember writing about—one of the last stories I did at the Sunday Times was about some of really profound efforts that some gay activist groups were making, trying to draw the attention of the authorities, including the pharmaceutical society, to the documented ill-effects of the nitrite inhalants.
West: They were writing to them?
Hodgkinson: They were writing to them, they were asking to see them, they were presenting the studies, they were giving the references, to people like the health ministry, the royal pharmaceutical society, the British Medical Association, anyone they could get to listen. They were really trying to campaign on this issue. There was such defensiveness about the HIV theory, that because this presented an alternative scenario for AIDS, it was like, no-one would listen to them.
West: Have they got replies—do you have documents, replies, thank you for your interest, we don’t wish to comment?
Hodgkinson: Yes, they’ve got tapes of conversations that they had with the Terrence Higgins Trust and other AIDS organisations, and they were very dismissive. They said ‘we can’t deprive AIDS patients of their harmless bit of fun’ and that sort of thing. And John Lauritsen describes how, during a visit to London, he went to see an AIDS ward, and he noticed bottles of poppers on the bedside. And he said, he asked the nurse about them, and the nurse said the doctors had given instructions that you shouldn’t interfere with their pleasure. You know, they were dying, and they were being encouraged to use poppers! It’s absolutely astounding. When I wrote an article about these concerns, a level-headed piece, the Department of Health spokespeople were very dismissive of the ill-effects of poppers.
West: Sometimes you get experiments done which are deliberately designed to discredit things.
Hodgkinson: Oh, there was a lot of that.
West: There was one with poppers, wasn’t there, where they deliberately exposed mice to a very low level, which was similar to what you get in a poppers factory—
Hodgkinson: Yes, I’ve reported that.
West: And they found no ill-effects—oh, perhaps I’m quoting you.
Hodgkinson: Yes, you may be. Yes, that’s right. Yes, there was.
West: And presumably that was done deliberately not to examine the evidence?
Hodgkinson: Yes, that’s right. There’s been a lot of that.
West: Can you give any other examples of that sort of thing? Since you say—
Hodgkinson: I give them in the book. I think in John Lauritsen’s chapter, called Drugged, that really sets out the case for drugs being a factor—
      [Hodgkinson's chapter has the following examples, and no doubt others: [1] Biased statistical presentation, without accurate presentation of drugs and gays; [2] Evidence published in journals, but overridden by advertising money by popper manufactures (and the FDA and others which had 'looked the other way'); [3] Fake controls in tests, e.g. gay controls selected only from VD clinics; [4] The mouse study is alluded to; [5] Forms doctors filled out had no questions on non-injected drugs; [6] irrelevance of the 'shared needles' idea, when habitual drug addicts knew of the dangers perfectly well—combined with the implication that injected drugs were harmless; [7] studies classified under hard-to-find or stereotyped headings—for example, under 'amyl nitrite', not under 'AIDS' or 'nitrites'; [8] failure to collect simple facts on 'people with AIDS'—VD, drug use, terror, grief]
West: I apologise for not preparing better.
Hodgkinson: No, that’s OK!
West: When you talk, like Ivor does, of the amount of money involved, how do you find out, how do you check up on these figures? Ivor says $7 billion a year. How do you check? Is that a difficult thing to do? You have all these foundations all over the place—
Hodgkinson: Yes, you do get different figures. Well. Multi-billion dollar is probably accurate. Because certainly the American government’s HIV research funding is about one and a half billion a year. And that’s just for research. And then adding on to that treatment, preventive campaigns, that sort of thing, it is several billion.
West: One and a half billion was for the CDC wasn’t it, or the NIH?
Hodgkinson: It’s NIH, yes, National Institutes of Health. No, it’s not all through the NIH. That’s federal funding of AIDS research, which is virtually all HIV.
West: As a matter of interest, do you know how Jad Adams got into all this? I think I asked him over the phone, but I’ve forgotten what he said. He was a historian originally, wasn’t he. And got involved with Meditel.
Hodgkinson: Yes. That’s in the book too! He worked with Meditel on some other medical documentaries, including one I think challenging the cholesterol theory, and Michael Verney-Elliott, who was a gay man, who had come across (in the New York Native I think) that there were different ways of thinking about AIDS, walked into Meditel’s offices and said, you really ought to take a look at this.
West: And they did.
Hodgkinson: And they did. Meditel were the pioneers of the television reporting on this.
West: Well, it was also Channel 4, wasn’t it. I think if Channel 4 hadn’t existed, I doubt whether the Beeb [BBC] would have published a thing like that.
Hodgkinson: The Beeb have been appalling. They really were, they’ve just been, quite mindless on this issue all the way through. They’ve not wanted to lift a word of criticism of the HIV theory at any point. And in fact, worse than that, they’ve also deliberately tried to sabotage and dismiss some of the efforts to shed more light on this issue from different points of view.
West: You mean, not just by not publishing them, but by publishing counter-stuff?
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: They also have plays and things. I remember one with Jane Asher, a typical example. All this stuff about people being infected. Another very striking thing is that people go and have ‘tests’. They never say what the tests are. Deus ex Machina going on there.
      I was surprised that Adams was a historian. I found he’d written books on Tony Benn and on life insurance murders, to make money. So he’s a bit of a multiple chappie.
      Did you look into cancer research? There’s a chap he mentioned I went to see, along with Hillman, called [Harold] Hewitt. Who’s now retired. I think a lot of this went on in cancer research. An awful lot of fake, duff work, loose ends which were never tied up.
Hodgkinson: I remember I did quite a few challenging stories in that area from time to time, like the challenge to breast cancer screening was one.
West: What about cancer immunity? Does that ring a bell—that was another of these spurious ideas. The point about cancer cells is that something goes wrong with DNA, presumably, so they split up, but they’re not recognised by the immune system as dangerous. In my view, how the immune system works is not really known. But at any rate cancer cells are almost by definition must be something that’s not recognised. If it mutated in such a way that it was recognised, it’d just be wiped out. And there’s been no end of attempts to make the immune system do things with them—years and years of essentially fraudulent work on that.
      And the HeLa cells! The Henrietta Lacks business—
Hodgkinson: Oh, Hela! Yes! An amazing story! I wonder sometimes whether HeLa might not turn up in AIDS.
West: It’s entirely possible, isn’t it. You’ve got all these vaccines—
Hodgkinson: Yes—
West: Do you ever look into—I wasn’t aware of this until recently. There’s a lot of opposition to vaccines, in some groups, particularly in America. Which I think goes back to—the earliest example I found in Britain was with smallpox. And Lewis Carroll got involved, and he came up with the classic useless reply: somebody said in a newspaper that 90% of the people who got smallpox, in the epidemic, in 1880 or something, 90% who got the disease had been vaccinated. And Lewis Carroll wrote back and said you have to know all the percentages. Classic useless reply. But that figure keeps coming up. I hadn’t realised there’s such a feeling against immunisation, or what’s called immunisation, in some parts of America. I don’t know if you’ve reported that—
Hodgkinson: I have to some degree. Not as much as I would have liked to have done, because it’s so complex to challenge it authoritatively. You have to read a lot of papers. What I did do, I did one on flu vaccine. I went right into the research there and demonstrated that it had never been shown to be effective. In fact—
West: Sorry to interrupt. You mean the whole lot of it, from beginning to end?
Hodgkinson: Yes. In fact there’s quite good evidence that people who receive flu vaccine are more at risk of a variety of ailments-not necessarily flu-in the period a few months following vaccination than those not vaccinated.
West: And if they die of it, you say it was there all the time? You invent..? I admire your guts.
Hodgkinson: Oh there are some good things on this. You always have to rely on what doctors or scientists themselves have done. Some GPs did one of the best studies, where they just kept records, they looked at the health records, of the cohorts who had the vaccine and matched them against the cohorts who hadn’t, and looked at what happened. And this was where they found there was a big increase in a variety of ailments—including death was also up—not from flu, but from a variety of things, in the vaccinated group.
West: This was fairly shortly after being vaccinated? Not their whole lives?
Hodgkinson: It was over a period of about a year after the vaccination. There were other very good studies where some boarding schools. They vaccinated half the pupils, and didn’t vaccinate the other half.
West: How did that happen? Did they run out of vaccine?
Hodgkinson: No, no. It was deliberate trial.
West: It was deliberate policy?
Hodgkinson: Yes. I spoke to the school medical officer. He said, ‘I’ve been a bit suspicious. We didn’t really feel we saw much benefit from this, so I thought I’d just test it out for myself. What he found was that there was less flu in the vaccinated group in the first year, but more illness in the second year in the vaccinated group.
West: Was that a properly controlled blind experiment?
Hodgkinson: There were two of these studies done.
West: Did they inject some of them with a placebo?
Hodgkinson: Oh, I see what you mean. I don’t know.
West: They might have been criticised on the ground it wasn’t properly controlled. There is some sense in having properly controlled experiments, though it makes it very difficult.
Hodgkinson: Yes. It was a pretty good control in the sense that normally you’d expect the inoculated group would be having a better health record, whereas in fact he found that looking at it over the two year period—there were two school studies that pointed in the same direction, and the supposition was that there was some sort of limited protection given by the vaccination, but that the ones that were exposed to whatever was around without that limited protection obtained full protection. So in the subsequent year the vaccinated group, even though they were vaccinated again, became more vulnerable to flu than the unvaccinated group. So on that basis, these schools stopped using the vaccine.
West: What about things like tetanus, which are almost universal?
Hodgkinson: Never looked into it.
West: It’s difficult to judge, isn’t it. Some vaccines may be admirably wonderful; you just can’t tell
Hodgkinson: There’s so much nonsense in the medical field. There are enormous numbers of examples of this kind of thing, where we believe that things have been validated, and they haven’t! There’s just a kind of consensus that has been reached that it’ll be a good idea to reassure people, and make a nice new market, to stick jabs in people. I mean water fluoridation is an absolute classic. There’s very very clear evidence that fluoride taken systemically—that is, where you swallow it—weakens tooth enamel. It’s very very clear! It’s absolutely been demonstrated. But fluoride topically does strengthen tooth enamel. Actually it promotes uptakes of minerals on the surface. But taken systemically it weakens. So fluoride in water is an absolute disaster. It’s absolutely ridiculous!
West: Did you ever publish on this as well?
Hodgkinson: I could never get the news desk to take it. They said they were so sick of fluoride—
West: Is fluoridation—I don’t know if it’s practised in Britain.
Hodgkinson: About 10% of the country still gets it. The Department of Health knows it’s rubbish now, but it’s too much egg on face of all the people that promoted it all those years to do anything about it. So they’ve just left it on hold. They’ve stopped promoting it, but it’s difficult for them to pull back.
West: I’m impressed by the way, you’ve been very thorough.
      Can I just summarise this virus information. They’ve just got two tests, the elisa and the western blot. Is that right, or have they got others now?
Hodgkinson: They do use other methods. The main other method that they use to claim that they do see lots of virus now—where earlier Duesberg’s case was that you can’t find this virus, basically he said it’s so difficult to find it can’t possibly cause the damage attributed to it. With something like Hepatitis B, as I said earlier,—if you take a drop of blood there are millions of virus particles to be seen. No such phenomenon with HIV at all. He said it was nothing different from other retroviruses—in fact, Duesberg himself says retroviruses just don’t do any harm. That was his original Cancer Research paper’s argument. There was nothing different about this retrovirus. Nothing to make it any different from any other retrovirus.
West: But from the point of view of the retrovirus community, that wasn’t a very welcome message.
Hodgkinson: No. It was very interesting. The editor of Cancer Research said, despite this paper being in this very leading journal, and despite that being published there, there wasn’t a single response to it. No-one replied to it. They just tried to pretend it didn’t happen. What was your question, again?
West: Oh, Elisa and the Western Blot—
Hodgkinson: Oh, yes. That’s an important point, this. A lot of recent papers claim there’s a lot of virus, even though we’ve had a decade where everyone agreed there was hardly any. All of a sudden there’s lots of it. On the basis of the use of PCR, the polymerase chain reaction, which Kary Mullis discovered. Got the Nobel Prize for that, for what that’s worth, I think it’s worth a lot. In his instance, he’s a very brilliant chap. This is a means whereby you can find a needle in a haystack.
West: You multiply it, don’t you.
Hodgkinson: Yes. It might just be the needle in the haystack, but you can turn it into a haystack of that particular genetic sequence.
West: The principle so far as I understand it is similar to the way DNA is believed to reproduce anyway. You use the thing as its own template—
Hodgkinson: Yes, that’s right. And using this method, what they—without any validation of the claims based on the basis of this—they are now claiming they can see lots of HIV in the bodies of people who are sick with AIDS. Or who are sometimes HIV positive.
West: OK. So they claim they have a test.
Hodgkinson: They claim this is a test—
West: Is that valid?
Hodgkinson: No, it’s not valid.
West: I mean if they check it against a normal person; do you get false positives?
Hodgkinson: You get to the heart of the issue. This is actually a very important point. You could do controls; you could take people with comparable conditions, conditions of immune system activation, but not AIDS, or not HIV positive, whatever you like. You could do that. But nobody’s ever done that! What they will do, is they’ll say that in an ordinary healthy patient you won’t find these genetic signals; in an AIDS patient you do. In a healthy person, you won’t find the evidence—
West: I understand what you’re saying. Are you saying they actually try that to see, or they’re just asserting it?
Hodgkinson: Well, you see, the actual method they use is called quantitative PCR, which means that they’re making estimates of the amount of HIV which they claim is present. They’re using the method in such a way that with ordinary people you don’t see these signals; with AIDS patients, you do see the signals.
West: OK
Hodgkinson: Firstly, the quantitative idea has not been validated. And that’s pretty well accepted—not by the people using it, but it hasn’t been validated—
West: You mean the ratio could be anything between ten to the 1, and say ten to the 10—
Hodgkinson: Exactly. It’s a very, very uncertain method. But secondly, the fact that you can’t find virus with this method. PCR can only look for one gene at most There are several genes said to be in HIV. They’re just looking at a genetic sequence that’s been attributed to HIV. And that is not the virus. But the people making claims for this method say this is the virus, this is virus isolation. But it’s not. It’s just a genetic sequence- that’s all they’re looking for. And what I’d love to see done is studies to check whether these sequences—OK, it’s accepted that in AIDS and HIV positive patients these sequences are more in evidence—but that is entirely in keeping with Eleopulos’s theory that the immune system cells have been overactivated and that they are producing these genetic sequences.
West: You might find it in ill people generally—
Hodgkinson: Well, you do! That’s the interesting thing. In Africa, you find it in a lot of people with chronic illness, and especially with auto-immune illness—conditions which have gone on for a long time. Immune cells seem to be sending out these distress signals, and it would be very easy to check whether these sequences are actually in everybody’s cells. But no-one will do that! That’s what needs to be done.
West: Yes. There’s a problem here I’ve seen elsewhere. You’re asserting this [nobody will carry out a test], but it’s very difficult to prove it. For example, Harold Hillman says controlled experiments have never been carried out to validate subcellular fractionation. It sounds as though you’ve read the whole literature. His evidence for that is, that whenever he challenges them to produce evidence of controlled experiments, they won’t do it.
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: He’s certainly never found any papers. So when *you say that, how do you prove it?
Hodgkinson: Well, Eleopulos has been working on this since 1983, that’s twelve or thirteen years, she knows the literature backwards. She’s put the challenge out repeatedly: Where is the literature that shows us this? It’s just not there. Furthermore, a very very good study that was reported in her latest paper, not in the book, really very supportive of this theory, it’s devastating actually. Max Planck Institute in Germany; I’ve forgotten the name of the researcher there. He’s supposed to be a top retrovirologist. He’d done some paper about another so-called human retrovirus—HT something, I can’t remember. And he showed that 70% of HIV-positive people tested positive for this, using some fairly straightforward test, PCR or whatever, and only about 3% of ordinary healthy blood donors tested positive for it. But, it’s in all of us! He knows it is, because he’s shown that it’s part of the human genome. It’s present within immune cells, particularly. Therefore, it’s like a very clear model of what may be happening here. When the immuneCells are stimulated by some chronic stimulus, these genes are activated, and they give off the signals that are picked up as antibodies, HIV antibodies, and they give signals that PCR detects, but it’s an endogenous process. It’s nothing to do with the invasion of a deadly new virus!
West: It does sound possible.
Hodgkinson: It’s amazing, isn’t it!
West: Of course, whenever anyone invents a technique, it can get commercialised, can’t it. When did Kary Mullis get his Nobel Prize?
Hodgkinson: ’93.
West: As recently as that?
Hodgkinson: Yes
West: So it’s a brand new—
Hodgkinson: Well, the technique’s been around for a few years. But what put him onto the HIV critique was that in the early years of his invention, there were companies wanting to validate testing methods using PCR for HIV detection, so they called him in as a consultant. And he said he would write up his reports and so forth, and then he wanted to say in some point in all this, you know, HIV has been shown to be the cause of AIDS. And he said he would ask the scientists, within the company that he was working for, what the references were for that. And they weren’t able to give him any! And that’s what put him on to it.
West: I presume they said they could? They didn’t explicitly say we couldn’t give any?
Hodgkinson: They did more or less, yes! I mean, they said, well, everyone knows HIV is the cause of AIDS! It’s been demonstrated! I mean, they would refer to government publications or whatever, but he’d say, well, yes, where is the actual body of scientific evidence which demonstrates this? And he couldn’t be given the references!
West: So he’s—let me just ask you about the Elisa and Western Blot. Have you worked out how they operate, these two? The western blot we discussed before a bit—
Hodgkinson: Well, all I can tell you in general terms is that Elisa takes a mixture of biological materials and gives off a signal on the basis of looking for the antibodies that are said to be specific to HIV within that mixture. And Western Blot actually has some—
West: It’s an antigen test, is it? You mix something with it, and it goes milky or something?
Hodgkinson: Yes, they both work rather like that.
West: I thought the Western Blot split it up into proteins; you end up with these bands—
Hodgkinson: There are bands. But in both of the tests you’re looking for a reaction between proteins produced by the body with proteins which are said to be specific to those proteins, and that are in your test. So that you’re looking for that reaction. In the case of the Western Blot, the reaction is on these bands with individual proteins that have been attributed to HIV. In the case of Elisa, it’s more of a mish-mash, and you look for the intensity of reaction within that. In both instances the same principle’s at work: you’re looking for an antibody-antigen reaction, and then that produces your band or your colour-change, whatever it is.
West: Did you speak to Kary Mullis?
Hodgkinson: Yes.
West: What was his attitude to all this?
Hodgkinson: Absolute despair. Again, you’ll see an interview towards the end of the book. Actually, it was Celia Farber who’s an American journalist who’s written on this subject for years now. She called him at his home. He lives in California. You know, he, he’s quite a socialite in a sense. I don’t know, he’s probably an ex-hippy or something like that. Brilliant in his field. And very challenging to the mainstream, very ready to be challenging. Anyway, he’d been entertaining one evening when she rang him, and he said he didn’t want to talk to her. And after a bit of talking, and she was asking him about what was going on—this was quite recently, three or four years after he’d first learned of Duesberg’s critique—and she said that suddenly she realised he was crying. This Nobel Laureate was in tears on the end of the phone! And the reason was, he was saying, I just don’t know what to do! What more can I do? To tell these people that they’re killing thousands of people with their junk science. And they’re misusing my test, they’ve never demonstrated HIV to be the cause, and they’re giving drugs which have been untested, clearly lethal because of the nature of their action.


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Tapes, transcription, HTML © Rae West 1999. First uploaded 29th December 1999. Neville Hodgkinson's email added 9 Jan 2000. There may be a few transcription errors; feel free to email this site
Keywords, key phrases: Africa Aids AIDS angina antibody AZT Bio/Technology Burroughs-Wellcome Cancer Research CDC Concorde Trial controls DNA Elisa flu fluoride HeLa HIV HIV positive immune system Kaposi's sarcoma Meditel Nature NIH nitrite inhalants Nobel Prize PCR placebo polymerase chain reaction poppers positive prostitute drug user proteins science scientific method smallpox Spin Sunday Times syphilis toxicology trials vaccine validation western blot
People: Jad Adams,Harvey Bialy,Michael Callen,Peter Duesberg,Eleni Eleopulos,Celia Farber,Robert Gallo,Harold Hewitt,Harold Hillman,Neville Hodgkinson,David Horrobin,Henrietta Lacks,John Lauritsen,John Maddox,Kary Mullis,Andrew Neil,Joan Shenton,Michael Verney-Elliot,Hank Wilson