Readers of TCW will be familiar with Neville Hodgkinson’s critical reporting of the ‘Covid crisis’ since December 2020, notably his expert, science-based informed alarm about the mass ‘vaccine’ rollout, so absent from mainstream coverage. What they may be less aware of is the international storm this former Sunday Times medical and science correspondent created in the 1990s by reporting a scientific challenge to the ‘HIV’ theory of Aids, presaging the hostile response to science critics of Covid today. In this series, written exclusively for TCW, he details findings that form the substance of his newly updated and expanded book, How HIV/Aids Set the Stage for the Covid Crisis, on the controversy. It is available here. You can read Part 1 of this series here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.
YESTERDAY I explained how detection of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase (RT), previously thought to prove the presence of a retrovirus but later found to be abundant in cells, lay at the root of the theory that HIV causes Aids. This is one key finding in an 80-page deconstruction of the entire concept of ‘HIV’ posted in July 2017 by a group of scientists based in Perth, Western Australia.
Their work has been ignored, censored and suppressed in much the same way as experienced by critics of the panic-stricken, exploitative, ego-driven, cruel and hugely damaging responses to the Covid pandemic.
The Perth paper is not a loose philosophical challenge to germ theory in general. It is a forensic examination of every detail of the science that has been taken as proof of the HIV/Aids hypothesis.
Misinterpretation over the presence of RT paved the way for further foundational errors, the next of which was the bypassing of a vital step in virus identification known as purification. This entails separating particles of the virus from cell debris, so the particles can be shown to be infectious, and their exact constituents established. HIV pioneers Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo never fulfilled this requirement, according to the Perth group’s analysis, despite claims to the contrary.
‘Viruses are particles,’ the Perth scientists say. ‘Without proof for the existence of particles there is no proof of the existence of a virus.’
It was not that the Montagnier and Gallo teams did not try. Both regularly attempted to purify particles from cultures of cells taken from Aids patients, or those at risk of Aids. They used a technique known as sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation. In this, a drop of the culture fluid is passed through a sucrose solution spun in a high-speed centrifuge which separates retrovirus particles at a particular density. This material is then examined with an electron microscope in the hope of demonstrating the particles.
Montagnier’s group cultured cells from a 33-year-old gay man with swollen lymph nodes, who indicated that he had had more than 50 sexual partners a year and had travelled to many countries. He had a history of several episodes of gonorrhoea, and three months previously had been treated for syphilis.
Reverse transcriptase activity was seen and interpreted as meaning a retrovirus was present. RT was also detected in their second experiment, in which cells from the patient were co-cultured with the cells of a healthy blood donor. Despite repeatedly looking, however, Montagnier’s group failed to find evidence of the vital particles in either of these experiments.
In a third experiment, cells from umbilical cord blood, obtained from two placentas, were cultured with fluids from the second experiment; in this case a few particles were seen under the electron microscope. The group took them to be ‘HIV’, although they were not purified, and umbilical cord cell cultures are known to produce such particles independent of any infection. No control experiment was done to see whether the umbilical cells would produce a similar result by themselves.
Particles which simply look as if they might be retroviruses can often be detected in sick people, regardless of Aids, as well as in people who are well. This is why the Perth scientists insist that failure to purify particles, determine what they are made of, and prove they are infectious was such a huge flaw in ‘HIV’ science. Later claims by HIV researchers that they have found other means of determining HIV’s presence are all indirect, like the detection of RT, and equally open to misinterpretation.
In 2008, Montagnier and his co-worker Françoise Barré-Sinoussi were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for having been first to discover HIV. In her biographical details for the prize, Barré-Sinoussi stated that ‘it was important to visualise the retroviral particles, and Charles Dauget (the team’s electron microscopist) provided the first images of the virus in February 1983. The isolation, amplification and characterisation of the virus rapidly ensued’.
However, Montagnier had given a different picture when questioned on this point by Djamel Tahi, a French documentary film maker, in a 1997 interview. Tahi asked why electron microscope photographs ‘published by you come from the culture and not from the purification’. Montagnier replied that when purification was attempted, ‘we saw some particles but they did not have the morphology typical of retroviruses. They were very different’. Of Gallo’s work, he said: ‘I don’t know if he really purified. I don’t believe so.’
Dauget went further, telling Tahi: ‘We have never seen virus particles in the purified virus. What we have seen all the time was cellular debris, not virus particles.’
Cellular debris means broken down pieces of cells used in the cultures. Yet because of the RT activity, Montagnier believed he had found a retrovirus. So when he incubated serum from his patient’s blood with this ‘debris’, he expected to find antibodies which would react with virus proteins. Three proteins did produce a reaction, and Montagnier concluded that one of these was ‘specifically recognised’ as being viral.
There was no scientific justification for this conclusion, the Perth scientists say. Many healthy humans have antibodies which react with this protein, identified as p24 (a molecular weight of 24,000). It is also known that at least one normal cell component is a protein with the same molecular weight. Yet for decades the detection of this protein in blood or culture has been taken to prove the presence of the virus.
In May 1994 Gallo published four papers in Science with many similarities to the French group’s experiments, though he tested samples from more patients and used an immortal (cancer) cell line to obtain large amounts of proteins for diagnosis and research. His claims to have found the virus held no more validity than Montagnier’s because he too failed to observe, purify and characterise actual virus particles.
In 2003 the Perth group emailed Gallo asking if he was aware of Montagnier’s admission that there were no electron microscope pictures of purified virus from the original patient, and whether clinicians had cause for concern about the implications of Montagnier’s answer. Had clinicians spent two decades diagnosing patients with a non-existent virus?
Gallo replied: ‘Montagnier subsequently published pictures of purified HIV as, of course, we did in our first papers. You have no need of worry. The evidence is obvious and overwhelming.’
Gallo’s reassurance has no basis in fact, the Perth scientists maintain. Not a single electron micrograph of purified ‘HIV’ was published by Gallo in 1984, or since. Nor did Montagnier publish any such picture. Fourteen years later, European and US groups who tried to make good this deficiency were still unable to provide clear evidence of the existence of ‘HIV’.
Right until his death in February 2022, Montagnier tried to signal to the world that HIV was not as dangerous as had been thought. I suspect he knew in his heart of hearts that the theory was mistaken, but could not bring himself to admit it after the fame – and wealth – that came his way.
I interviewed Montagnier for the Sunday Times at the Institut Pasteur in Paris in 1992, for an article the paper ran on April 26 under the heading ‘Time to think again on Aids link, claims HIV pioneer’. His thinking on HIV and Aids was already strikingly different from most people’s picture of the disease. He insisted that HIV did not attack cells of the immune system directly, but that in the presence of other infections it could spark a process in which immune cells were self-destructing faster than they could be replaced.
This was a big contrast with the ‘lethal virus’ picture promoted by Gallo. It meant HIV-infected patients could reduce their risk of Aids by reducing their exposure to other microbes. Dietary advice and vitamin supplements were also likely to help, Montagnier indicated, by easing chemical stresses in the body that were known to cause loss of immune cells.
‘We were naïve,’ he said at one point. ‘We thought this one virus had been doing all the destruction. Now we have to understand the other factors in this.’
He tried to make his views on these ‘co-factors’ known in June 1990, at the sixth international Aids conference in San Francisco, but it was not a message the conference wanted to hear. Of 12,000 delegates present, only 200 went to hear his talk. By the time he had finished, almost half had walked out. His concerns were dismissed by leading American Aids scientists and public health officials. Molecular biologist Professor Peter Duesberg, himself ostracised and defunded for challenging Gallo’s ‘deadly virus’ claims, commented: ‘There was Montagnier, the Jesus of HIV, and they threw him out of the temple.’
Molecular biology has moved into such refined areas of understanding that most people outside those directly involved in the field have little chance of detecting false claims. This is also a problem that has bedevilled Covid science. Despite clear evidence from the start that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered, powerful interests consistently threw up clouds of confusion, claiming it was a natural virus that had jumped species and that any other suggestion was conspiratorial. On top of that, big money was piled into promoting a global vaccination campaign, and into discrediting any ideas that could get in the way of that bonanza.
At least with Covid, the internet has made it possible for thousands of doctors and scientists to question official responses to the crisis, even in the face of relentless propaganda by the BBC and most mainstream media.
The marketing of the HIV theory of Aids was so successful, however, that few people realise there is any flaw in the science. Forty years on, millions of lives are still being blighted by an antibody test for a virus that never was.
Next: The ‘HIV’ test that misled millions