Science in Society Archive

On Quitting HIV

A powerful indictment of the HIV causes AIDS hypothesis from a mathematician who worked on it for ten years

Read also I-SIS' report Unraveling AIDS and its recommendations Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

“The entire basis for this theory is wrong”

Rebecca Culshaw created quite a stir by announcing “Why I quit HIV” [1] in March 2006, after having devoted ten years to mathematical modelling of how HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency disease); though this has received no coverage in the mainstream media. Five peer-reviewed publications and seven conference papers in ten years are a success by any standard. But she has come to realize that “the entire basis for this theory is wrong.” and AIDS, it seems to her, “is not a disease so much as a sociopolitical construct that few people understand and even fewer question.” In fact, it is considered irresponsible to question the belief that HIV causes AIDS.

Predictably, she has come under vicious attack from the conventional HIV research community and their supporters. Some have “kindly” suggested that she injects herself with the blood of a late-stage AIDS patient.

But she has also received heart-rending confirmation from those who had suffered as the result of the HIV causes AIDS hypothesis.

From seeds of doubt to final abandon

A chance reading of an article by David Rasnick [2], a prominent AIDS ‘dissident', sowed the seeds of doubt in Culshaw's mind. She justified continuing with the conventional models by telling herself that they were purely theoretical constructs that were never to be applied to the real world. But she was wrong.

Clinically, AIDS is characterised by a decline in cell-mediated immunity as measured by circulating CD4+ T cells, which makes the patient susceptible to opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis pneumonia and Candida . But models that assume the HIV kills T cells simply do not work [3] ( Beyond the HIV-Causes-AIDS Model , this series).

Mathematical modelling was coming to a dead end because no one could agree on how HIV actually kills T cells. Mathematicians could not agree because biologists too, have failed to reach a consensus. Worse yet, there are no data in support of the hypothesis that HIV kills T-cells. In the famous paper from Robert Gallo's laboratory [4] that claimed to have discovered the HIV that causes AIDS, the virus could be found in only 26 out of 72 AIDS patients. The authors stated that the true prevalence of the virus was underestimated because many specimens were received in “unsatisfactory condition”. Culshaw points out, however, that “HIV remains an elusive target in those with AIDS or simply HIV-positive.”

In the United States, more than half of all AIDS cases diagnosed in the past several yeas has been made on a T-cell count, and a “confirmed” positive antibody test, based on no clinical disease at all . Meanwhile, the leading cause of death among HIV+ individuals has been liver failure, an acknowledged side effect of protease inhibitors, which individuals without symptoms consume in massive daily doses for years on end.

AIDS cases had increased rapidly from their initial discovery in the early 1980s, reaching a peak in 1993, before declining rapidly. However, the number of HIV+ individuals in the US has remained constant at one million since HIV antibody testing became widespread. This has been attributed to the ‘success' of anti-HIV therapy; even though the annual mortality rate of HIV+ individuals who are treated with anti-HIV drugs is much higher - at between 6.7 and 8.8 percent - than the 1-2 percent global mortality rate of HIV+ individuals.

Eventually, Culshaw realised that HIV tests do “immeasurably more harm than good,” due to the “astounding lack of specificity and standardization” (see later), and she now wants to see these tests banned for diagnostic purposes.

The real victims are those whose lives are turned upside-down by the stigma of an HIV diagnosis, according to Culshaw. Many perfectly healthy individuals are encouraged to avoid intimacy and encouraged to take massive daily doses of some of the most toxic drugs ever manufactured. They have lost their jobs, are denied entry into the Armed Forces, refused residency and entry into some countries, and charged with assault or murder for having consensual sex. Babies have been taken from their mothers and had toxic medications forced down their throat, “all in the name of a completely unproven, fundamentally flawed hypothesis, on the basis of highly suspect, indirect tests for supposed infection with an allegedly deadly virus – a virus that has never been observed to do much of anything.”

Who is to blame? Culshaw is in no doubt: “After ten years involved in the academic side of HIV research, as well as in the academic world at large, I truly believe that the blame for the universal, unconditional, faith-based acceptance of such a flawed theory falls squarely on the shoulders of those among us who have actively endorsed a completely unproven hypothesis in the interests of furthering our careers.”

But how could so many researchers be wrong? Culshaw identifies “the disintegration of scientific standards”, also the pressure to obtain big government grants and to publish as many papers as possible [5].

Racism and homophobia

Culshaw was born in Malawi and grew up there, which gave her insights that has eluded most of her peers in the HIV research community. Racism and homophobia have been rife in western societies for centuries, and only relatively recently have gays and blacks been accorded equal rights under the law. Nevertheless, these age-old prejudices are inherent in the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.

The official party line is that HIV came from Africa, where humans “consumed or did strange things with monkeys” [6], and from there the virus spread throughout the world “by gay men and sexually promiscuous, prostitute-visiting black Africans.”

For the current dogma to be true, “ we must somehow accept that either people of African descent are many times more genetically susceptible to “HIV infection”, or else that they are many orders of magnitude more promiscuous than are people in any other racial category.”

All studies that attempt to determine transmission rates confirm that rates are no different in Africa than anywhere else, about 1 in 1 000. Such low transmission rates are not sufficient to sustain a hetersexual epidemic anywhere in the world.

Culshaw's charge of racism in the HIV/Aids hypothesis and research programme has been made independently and forcefully by Alison Katz, another who has quit HIV[7] ( “Let Us Live and Let Them Die” , this series).

“What has the HIV hypothesis accomplished?” Culshaw [6] asks, “More than twenty years after a cure for AIDS was promised to have arrived, there is none, and there likely never will be a vaccine. A massive industry has been built around T-cell testing, viral load testing, antibody testing, and drug development. Drugs have been developed to lower viral load and drugs have been developed to alleviate the sometimes horrific effects of the primary drugs. An entire plastic surgery industry has been put into place to mask the loss and redistribution of fat caused by the drugs. Now, pressure is on to distribute these drugs to those who need them far less than they need clean living conditions and adequate nutrition.”

The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals [8] contains the following entry on nutritional deficiency and deficiency in cellular immunity: “Total lymphocyte count, which often decreases as undernutrition progresses, may be determined. Undernutrition produces a marked decline in CD4+ T lymphocytes, so this count is more useful in patients who do not have AIDS.”

In other words, undernutrition can produce the kind of cellular immune deficiency that characterises AIDS disease.

Culshaw concludes [9] “ It's way past time for the world, that's us, as well as the politicians and chronically misled talk-show hosts, to wake up to reality – the notion of a sexually-transmitted retrovirus causing an epidemic of immune deficiency in Africa is a racist construct. It has no basis in reality, and is causing a medical disaster in the call for the mass administration of “antiretrovirals” to the Third World – a form of iatrogenic genocide masquerading as philanthropy.”

Nevertheless, female HIV infections rates are rising, and has over those of men in some areas. A United Nations Aids epidemic update identified gender inequality in social and economic status, and in access to prevention and care services, as one of the reasons for the rising rates of female HIV infection. It also highlighted sexual violence against women, loss of property and/or physical violence if they become widowed or infected by HIV [10] ( Women Confront Aids in Africa , this series. For non-sexual transmission of HIV see [11] ( Concentrating Exclusively on Sexual Transmission of HIV is Misplaced, this series)

HIV antibody tests remain reliable to this day

Culshaw firmly rejects the claim that HIV tests have improved in reliability since the early days [12]. HIV antibody kits contain warning sentences such as “EIA [Elisa] testing cannot be used to diagnose AIDS.” And has to be ‘confirmed' by numerous similar tests, “all of which work in the same way, and all of which contain similar warnings.”

Viral loads, supposed to measure the level of the virus, have almost zero influence on decline of CD4+ cells in individuals with untreated HIV infection [3].

The most disturbing trend is the “strong recommendation” that all pregnant women be tested for HIV, if not during her pregnancy, then while she is in labour. Pregnancy is one of the numerous known causes of false positive on the HIV antibody tests, particularly among black women. As Culshaw points out [9], most of the women will not know that a positive result will deny her child the opportunity to receive optimal nutrition through breast-feeding, or that they and their child will be forced to take toxic drugs.

“Am I the only person disturbed by this?” Culshaw asks [9], “To terrorize and intimidate women when they are at their most vulnerable – while they are pregnant and while they are giving birth – is a sign of a society that is suffering a worse sickness than the one that so terrorizes it.”


We have dealt with all the issues discussed extensively in ISIS' report Unraveling AIDS [13], which also contains many chapters on alternative, cheap and effective treatments (Order you copy now and get a free CD of the new articles and others from SiS archives to bring you right up to date! )

In the final chapter of our report, we recommended the following:

  1. Effective, low-cost interventions to combat AIDS should be made widely available to all. In particular, measures should be taken to provide adequate nutrition and to overcome lack of food and other nutritional deficiencies in AIDS patients. Traditional medicinal interventions should be made accessible to treat specific AIDS-defining symptoms.
  2. Treatment with toxic anti-retroviral drugs should be delayed for as long as possible, in line with guidelines already in place in the United States, and information on the toxicity of anti-retroviral drugs should be made widely available and accessible.
  3. There should be a global moratorium on trials of vaccines already proven ineffective.
  4. Support for research and development of many low-cost, safe, and effective interventions to combat AIDS should be greatly increased at the expense of antiretroviral drugs and vaccines in the current global initiatives to combat AIDS.
  5. There should be an open, wide-ranging debate on the causes of and cures for AIDS disease.

Article first published 28/03/07


  1. ReCulshaw R. Why I quit HIV. 3 March 2006,
  2. Rasnick D. Blinded by science. 1997,
  3. Ho MW. Beyond the HIV-causes-AIDS model. Science in Society 34 (to appear).
  4. Gallo RC, Salahuddin SZ, Popovic M, et al. Frequent detection and isolation of cytopathic retroviruses (HTLV-III) from patients with AIDS and at risk for AIDS. Science 194, 224, 500-3.
  5. Culshaw R. Why I quit HIV: The aftermath. 21 March 2006,
  6. Culshaw RV. On AIDS and my native Africa. 21 September 2006,
  7. Burcher S. “Let us live and let them die”, WHO's AIDS researcher parting salvo. Science in Society 34 (in press).
  8. The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals, 1995-2007,
  9. Culshaw R. What is PEM and how does it concern HIV AIDS and Africa?
  10. Burcher S. Women confront AIDS in Africa. Science in Society 34 (in press).
  11. Ho MW. Concentrating exclusively on sexual transmission of HIV is misplaced. Science in Society 34 (to appear).
  12. Culshaw R. Dear Dr. Culshaw, 20 October 2006,
  13. Ho MW, Burcher S, Gala R and Vejkovic V. Unraveling AIDS. The Independent Science and Promising Alternative Therapies , Vital Health Publishing, Ridgefield, CT, 2005,

Other ISIS articles about HIV and AIDS

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