A CRITIQUE OF THE EVIDENCE
FOR THE ISOLATION OF HIV
A Summary of the Views of Papadopulos et. al.
The proposal that AIDS is caused by a unique, infectious retrovirus
requires proof for the existence of such a retrovirus. Since the announcement of
the discovery of certain laboratory phenomena claimed as proof of the
existence of HIV we have critically analysed the data and have always maintained
that no such proof exists [1-11].
A virus is a microscopic particle of particular size and shape
(morphology) which contains particular constituents (biochemical properties) and
which is able to replicate only at the behest of living protoplasm, that is,
a virus is an obligatory intracellular parasite. Replication of a
virus-like particle is the property which defines the particle as being
infectious, that is, virus-like particle + replication = virus. These
defining data determine that the only way to prove the existence of a novel (new)
virus is to (i) isolate viral-like particles, that is, first obtain the
particles separate from everything else; (ii) determine their morphological
characteristics; (iii) analyse their constituents (nucleic acid and
proteins) demonstrating that such properties are those of retroviruses
and are unique; (iv) prove that the particles are infectious, that is, when
pure particles are introduced into non-infected cell cultures, new but
identical particles appear. Only then can the viral-like particles be
deemed to a virus. In the case of retroviruses, the steps in this
procedure were developed over the half century that preceded the AIDS
era and are described in Toplin and Sinoussi. [12,13]. These steps are:
1. Culture of putatively infected cells demonstrating that such cultures
contain retroviral-like particles, that is, particles virtually spherical
in shape with a diameter of 100-120nM and with "condensed inner bodies
(cores)" and surfaces "studded with projections (knobs)" .
2. Purification of a sample by ultracentrifugation through a sucrose
density gradient. A test tube containing a solution of sucrose, ordinary table
sugar, is prepared light at the top but gradually becoming heavier
towards the bottom. A drop of supernatant (decanted) cell culture fluid is
gently placed on top of the sucrose column and the test-tube is centrifuged
for several hours at extremely high speeds. This generates tremendous
forces forcing any particles present through the sugar solution until they
reach a point where their buoyancy prevents further penetration. For retroviral
particles this occurs where the density of the sucrose solution reaches
1.16 gm/ml. At this the point the particles concentrate or, to use
virological terminology, this is where the particles band. The 1.1
band is then selectively extracted for further analysis.
3. Using the electron microscope (EM), photograph the 1.16 band proving
there are particles of the correct morphology and no other material.
4. Disrupt and analyse the constituents of such particles.
5. Introduce pure particles into a virgin culture and, by repeating the
above steps, prove that identical particles are produced.
To date, many electron micrographs of particles claimed to be
retrovirus-like have been published. However, not one of these
micrographs demonstrates particles satisfying both main morphological features of
retroviral particles, that is, a diameter of 100-120nM and a surface
studded with knobs. (HIV researchers are unanimous that the knobs
contain a protein, gp120, which is essential for the first step in infection
and replication, that is, for the particle to fuse with the membrane of an
uninfected cell in order that the HIV particle with its 'HIV RNA" gains
access to the interior of the cell .
To prove the existence of HIV, both Montagnier's group in 1983 and
Gallo's group in 1984 banded supernatant in sucrose density gradients.
However, until March 1997, for unknown reasons, neither these groups nor anyone
else had ever published an electron micrograph of the banded (purified)
material to show which if any of the many different variety of particles seen in
gross cell cultures  are present at 1.16 gm/ml. Indeed, until March
this year it was not possible to know whether any structured material
whatsoever was present at the density which defines retroviral particles.
Nonetheless, from the time of the Montagnier and Gallo studies [16,17],
the material from culture supernatants banding at 1.16 gm/ml has been
regarded as pure HIV particles. Acting on this premis, the proteins which are
present in this band and which react with antibodies present in the sera
of AIDS patients are claimed to be the HIV proteins and the antibodies
reacting with such proteins the HIV antibodies. Similarly, a particular
portion of the RNA banding at 1.16 gm/ml is claimed to be the HIV genome.
All these conclusions were drawn without ever proving that the proteins
and RNA are structural elements of a particle, viral-like, retroviral-like
or any other particle of any other kind, that is, without any scientific
This March, two papers [18,19] were published with electron micrographs
of sucrose density gradient banded material. In one of these papers the
authors confirmed that:
"Virus to be used for biochemical and serological [using "viral" proteins
to test for antibodies in patients] analyses or as an immunogen [to
produce antibodies in animals and test patients for "viral" proteins] is
frequently prepared by centrifugation through sucrose density gradients.
The fractions containing viral antigen [proteins] and/or infectivity are
considered to contain a population of relatively pure viral particles"
 (italics ours).
However, to the contrary, the data in these papers support our claim
that the existence of HIV is unproven:
1. The authors of both papers concede that the particles which are
present in the banded material and which are said to be HIV represent only a
very small fraction of the total material. Gelderblom et al. state that the
material contains "an excess of [cellular] vesicles with a size range
50-500nm, as opposed to a minor population of virus particles...cellular
vesicles appear...to be a major contaminant of HIV preparations enriched
by sucrose gradient centrifugation".
2. For the small number of particles deemed to be "HIV" no evidence is
given that they are even a retrovirus-like particle. Indeed, to the contrary:
(a) the particles do not appear to have surface spikes (knobs), although
the possibility that such projections may be present cannot be excluded.
(However, in other papers published by many researchers including
Gelderblom and his associates such projections are noted to be absent
(b) the particles referred to as "HIV" are not spherical and have diameters
exceeding 100-120 nM. In the EM in Gluschankof et al.  there are
arrows pointing to five "HIV" particles devoid of surface projections whose
dimensions are 121 X 145; 121 X 169; 121 X 145, 121 X 145 and 133 X 145
nM respectively. In Bess et al.  there are a total of six "HIV
particles" also devoid of surface projections whose dimensions are 160 X 240;
200 X 240; 280 X 280; 208 X 250; 167 X 250 and 250 X 292 and nM respectively.
Thus, by definition, the particles cannot be retroviral-like particles
and even less, a unique retrovirus, HIV. Furthermore, the particles noted
by Gluschankof et al. and Bess et al. cannot be the same particle. Indeed,
the method adopted by all HIV researchers for proving the existence of HIV,
that is, excluding proof based on purification of particles with retroviral
morphology shown capable of faithful replication but rather by detection
of antibody/protein reactions, does not satisfy any scientific principle
and defies common sense.
Department of Medical Physics
Royal Perth Hospital
Perth, Western Australia
Voice int + 618 92243221
Fax int + 618 92243511
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