May 5, 2010
AIDS Denialist Ignored Scientific Misconduct Warnings
Controversial HIV scientist Peter Duesberg is being investigated at the University of California at Berkeley for ignoring warnings not to publish a paper refuting the effectiveness of antiretrovirals (ARVs) in treating HIV/AIDS, Nature reports. His paper also questioned estimates on the AIDS death toll in South Africa that resulted from a failure to make ARVs available.
Duesberg had submitted the paper early last year to the peer-reviewed Journal for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS). It was rejected. A reviewer noted that Deusberg had a conflict of interest and that the authors cherry-picked their sources and took quotations out of their original context. “This conduct is so egregious,” the reviewer wrote, “that if the present article were to be published, Duesberg et al. could well find themselves answering scientific misconduct charges.”
Which is what happened. Duesberg published the paper in July in Medical Hypothesis, which does not peer review submissions. But after receiving complaints, that journal reviewed the paper and withdrew it. According to Nature, Berkley opened a misconduct investigation, but details are unavailable until the case is concluded.
According to the article, Duesberg won acclaim in the 1970s for his work on cancer, but since then he has spent his career claiming that AIDS is caused by ARVs or environmental toxins, not HIV. In 2000, South African president Thabo Mbeki put Duesberg on a panel of advisers who deny that HIV causes AIDS. The result was a delay in the distribution of ARV drugs in South Africa, which studies estimate caused 330,000 premature deaths.
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