Interview: Dr. Peter Duesberg (Part I)

By Rick Rose

Dr. Peter Duesberg, professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and researcher, worked together with Dr. Robert Gallo in cancer research. In 1987, Dr. Duesberg started questioning HIV as the two men took prominent roles in studying the virus. Soon into their studies, the two diverged in their thinking. Today, Dr. Gallo is known as the father of the “cocktail drugs” used to combat HIV/AIDS while Dr. Duesberg’s questions and findings remain controversial and question the use of those drugs.

In a nutshell, Duesberg claims there is no virulogical, nor epidemiological, evidence to back-up the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. Instead, he claims the virus is biochemically inactive and harmless, and that AIDS is not behaving as a contagious disease. Duesberg stands by a toxicological explanation for the epidemic, pointing fingers at behaviors including illicit drug use and sex.

Dr. Duesberg has written three books on the subject. ‘Infectious AIDS: Have We Been Misled?‘ is a collection of his main papers, which have caused some to go so far as to accuse him as a murderer. He is the editor of ‘AIDS; Virus or Drug Induced?‘, a compilation of dissident articles. His latest story, ‘Inventing the AIDS Virus‘, inspired me to reach out to the man who was there at the beginning of the pandemic and still remains a tireless student of it all these years later. lgbtSr has given me and Duesberg the chance to present his thoughts, as they roll randomly and brilliantly from mind as he shares his experiences and studies. See what you think. They have opened my mind, and I have found a friend, not an enemy, in Dr. Peter Duesberg.

RR: Many in the LGBT community think you have marginalized us, even blaming us for the spread of AIDS because of our behaviors. As a result, you have been labeled as a homophobe. I know it is a tough hitting first question, but I wanted to get your feeling on that.

PD: My medical research is scientific. Science isn’t moral or ethical. You want to find out the facts before dealing with the politics. If you want to find out what causes lung cancer, you have to consider what is happening there with behaviors and conditions. It has never been my idea that AIDS is a male homosexual disease. The CDC and others started calling it that back in the early 1980’s. It was called the “gay compromise syndrome”. Others called it GRID (gay-related immune deficiency), AID (acquired immunodeficiency disease), “gay cancer” or “community-acquired immune dysfunction”. They are the ones that started that finger-pointing a long time ago. I am not a fascist, a hater or a mass murder as I have been charged over my years of sharing my research.

RR: At the onset of the disease, three decades ago, a number of theories emerged about the possible cause of these opportunistic infections and cancers. Dr. James Curran of the CDC said then that there was no apparent danger to non-homosexuals from contagion, you are right oon that. I quote him from “The New York Times” (July 1981): ‘The best evidence against contagion is that no cases have been reported to date outside the homosexual community or in women’.” Early theories included infection with cytomegalovirus, the use of amyl nitrite or butyl nitrate ‘poppers’, and ‘immune overload,” however those thoughts have mostly dissipated, yet you still hold strong belief in their part and other recreational drugs in the creation and spread of the disease.

If the lifestyle of the homosexual caused this epidemic, how is that reflected in other promiscuous and drug-using demographics today? We have a very sexual, meth smoking younger generation these days. Have you studied this generation of user?

PD: Deviant sexual lifestyle is not new or limited to the male homosexual. People have been doing these things for years and years, but these things are not mainstream. Bisexuality, pedophilia and bestiality have been around for billions of years since the early days of Rome and Greece. But drugs like amyl nitrite, cocaine and heroin were hardly available 30-40 years ago. Indeed, a large number of IV drug users are hetero, as are those living with AIDS. There is nothing new in terms of sex, but with the advent of these drugs came the advent of AIDS. The two don’t mix.

Then drugs are created in the 1980’s to combat AIDS. They are worse and destructive. Cocktail drugs….what a name! They are antiviral. Think about it, Rick. Designing safe and effective antiviral drugs is difficult, because viruses use the host’s cells to replicate. Our friends who take them consistently throw up on day one, and the next day, they are gone. These drugs kill them. Antivirals do this. They are a drug. Chemotherapy mutates; it kills. This is how they decided to cure and treat AIDS?

And gay men are willing to be part of the scheme after thirty years of proof. They don’t ask the basic question. Many affected are well-educated, why don’t they ask? They just accept…and hope. Why can’t the pharmaceutical companies who are getting rich off of this show us what happens to dogs, cats, monkeys and goldfish if given the same drugs we are eagerly asking for? It’s illogical. Animal biochemistry is not much different than human. Dr. Robert Gallo and his followers tell us that it has to be good for us. Rick, we are dying like crazy from this. I have warned many homosexual friends about their behaviors. They didn’t listen; now they are gone. Have you seen anyone get healthy on AZT? Who is gaining weight on this drug? They waste away.

RR: I love your passion. Peter, why did you choose this field of research? Is it emotional or purely a science for you?

PD: Retroviruses are my field and have been since my early studies. HIV belongs in this category. Retroviruses became “hot” in the 1960’s when I came to the US from Germany. It all started with looking at cancers. My work helped me gain tenure at Berkeley. It was wildly popular. I was invited to speak at one conference after another. Then came AIDS. I was more curious about it as it was unclaimed as for having a cause. When Gallo convinced the big political animal that a retrovirus he called HIV caused it, I was fired up. My studies began to prove otherwise. At the same time, Gallo got Liz Taylor and THE NEW YORK TIMES on board. Everyone wanted an excuse for AIDS instead of saying a dirty life was causing it. Instead of looking at the behaviors common in those with AIDS, everyone began look for a vaccine. Everyone wanted to be a hero. Nobel Prizes were granted. Reagan wanted to be reelected. Gay men were not to blame. People began listening to the wrong scientists, tests were taken and drugs were given. Meanwhile, people were dying from AIDS because they continued to behave in ways I believe cause the disease. I lost popularity. I became the outcast, and people continued to die faster than they were in military war to date. AIDS was spreading across the world. African was being destroyed, and no one was speaking out to stop it, to look at the behaviors behind it.

RR: You mentioned your friends who have died from AIDS.. Can you share the story of one?

PD: Let me share the story of one who is living. Michael Petrelis is a friend. Do you know him or his work? Michael has been an activist since the 1970’s. In the 80’s, he was a very active member of ACT-UP New York. He has always been interested in finding out where money goes when people give money to AIDS charities and political campaigns and still blogs about it and other things. You can read his blog at Billions of dollars have been raised for AIDS, and while he works to expose the misuse of this money, Michael himself is addicted to his “AIDS patient life.” Even while taking $1000 worth of meds a month, he doesn’t look normal. He has liver dystrophy and a bloated belly. Explain that?

RR: What are you currently working on? And researching?

PD: I have continued with my cancer research despite having very little funds. For the last twenty years, I have had virtually no money to do my work because of the misconduct investigation I faced when I was called a threat to public health because of my not accepting Gallo’s beliefs. Until then, he and I were good friends. He is a funny guy. He doesn’t want to give up his claim to fame.

Gallo and the companies who are making his drugs are making too much money. And gay men don’t want to give up their status. They want to take their drugs. They don’t want to give up the title or the other trinkets that go with it: Medicare, $1000 a month for their “cocktails.” It’s human, it’s American: “The more drugs I take, the better taken care of I am.” If Gallo’s status was taken away from him, there is far greater risk. He and his followers and believers would have to be blamed for killing a whole generation of people, those who died using their drugs as well as all those who committed suicide because they just couldn’t live under their circumstances. Consider the weight of what has been done.

I digress from your question a bit, but this all ties together. I am still doing my work at Berkley, but, Rick, it is very difficult to do research without government grants. In 2009, Harvard accused me of being responsible for the death of 1.8 million people in South Africa. I was charged with mass murder because of a paper that was published that year in a British based journal. I had investigated AIDS for years previous. An ethics board said because of my writing, I misled South Africans about the causes of AIDS and kept them away from proper treatment. They died at my hand. Two months later, my study disappeared. The President of the University of California investigated, and a half year later, I was exonerated, but obviously not excused.

Today, I have a few people who still donate.

RR: Anonymously?

PD: Anonymously. Yes. I’m sure they don’t want to be associated with supporting a “mass murderer.” Heck, I’m German, so I’m the perfect target, right. I wish the money not going to my research, were going to then I wish it were going to a world-wide media campaign connecting behaviors to death.

RR: If people believed that their behaviors caused the illness would they truly stop? What would get them to really actually stop?

PD: For IV drug users, you are right, no. They won’t give up their drug. For many gay men, no. Just wear your condom, they are told and they believe and stand by. “I won’t die, I am wearing a condom” they say as they snort their coke. And the media doesn’t help. You are in the media. You know how it works. They tell the story that sells. They tell the people what the people want to hear. They rarely take risks in telling the full story. The news agencies pretend to be sorry and empathetic. But they are really just digging for the perfect juicy story and the right stories to stir emotions and gain ratings, sell things.

Rick, not only am I envious that you can type as you are listening to me as you transcribe my answers, but I am glad you are asking to share my side of the story.

You can read more about Duesberg and study his writings at Then let’s get a dialogue going. What do you think? What are your experiences? Look for Part II of the interview soon.