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Durban Declaration on HIV and AIDS

July 7, 2000

Over 5,000 scientists from around the world have signed the "Durban Declaration" affirming that HIV is the cause of AIDS. The list includes 11 Nobel Prize winners, as well as directors of leading research institutes and presidents of academies and medical societies, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, the Pasteur Institute, Max Planck Institutes, the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the European Molecular Biology Organization, the AIDS Society of India, the National Institute for Virology in South Africa, and the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society. The Durban Declaration will be published July 6, 2000 in Nature, which is widely considered the world's most prestigious scientific journal. According to Nature, "Signatories are of M.D. or Ph.D. level or equivalent, although scientists working for commercial companies were asked not to sign."

The complete text of the Durban Declaration, the list of signers, and the committee of more than 250 scientists who put it together are available at http://www.nature.com. Also, the Durban Declaration has its own Web site, http://www.durbandeclaration.org, including translations of the declaration into different languages.

From the Durban Declaration:

The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous, meeting the highest standards of science. The data fulfill exactly the same criteria as for other viral diseases, such as polio, measles and smallpox:

  • Patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, regardless of where they live, are infected with HIV.

  • If not treated, most people with HIV infection show signs of AIDS within 5-10 years. HIV infection is identified in blood by detecting antibodies, gene sequences or viral isolation. These tests are as reliable as any used for detecting other virus infections.

  • People who receive HIV-contaminated blood or blood products develop AIDS, whereas those who receive untainted or screened blood do not.

  • Most children who develop AIDS are born to HIV-infected mothers. The higher the viral load in the mother, the greater the risk of the child becoming infected.

  • In the laboratory, HIV infects the exact type of white blood cell (CD4 lymphocytes) that becomes depleted in people with AIDS.

  • Drugs that block HIV replication in the test tube also reduce viral load in people and delay progression to AIDS. Where available, treatment has reduced AIDS mortality by more than 80%.

According to a July 2 article in The Washington Post, officials and researchers working for the U.S. government were told not to sign an early draft of the declaration which circulated before South African President Mbeki's U.S. visit several weeks ago. After the visit several did sign, including Helene Gayle, head of the AIDS office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One who did not sign was Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. His explanation was quoted as follows in The Washington Post: "I think in a backhanded way it gives them [AIDS doubters] greater credibility. It's sort of like a bunch of people saying the Earth is flat, and then you have to get everyone in the aerospace world to say that the Earth is round. That's crazy."

Also according to the Post, the Durban Declaration "was conceived in April by Peter Hale, an editor with the AIDS Research Alliance in Los Angeles, and a handful of American and European AIDS researchers. The group ultimately enlisted an 'organizing committee' of 265 scientists and physicians, including three Nobel laureates. Among the many African members is M.W. Makgoba, the head of the Medical Research Council of South Africa, the equivalent of the [U.S.] National Institutes of Health."


Additional Information on HIV, AIDS Link

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases maintains a Web page of links to information on HIV and AIDS. It is at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/spotlight/hiv00/default.htm.

An important article in the July 5, 2000 Village Voice, "Proof Positive," by Mark Schoofs (who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on AIDS in Africa) reports on the contribution of African scientists to showing that HIV causes AIDS. It is available at: www.thebody.com/schoofs/proof.html.



ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2000 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.


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