BY Djamel TAHI
Producer / Director of documentary films (AIDS, the doubt, 1996)
ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE MAGAZINE NEXUS (January February 2010)
For a few days, a video posted on the Internet is the buzz and stir the world of AIDS research (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v = WQoNW7lOnT4&NR = 1). This is a recent interview with Professor Luc Montagnier in which he declares : «People could be exposed to HIV many times without being chronically infected. A person with a good immune system eliminates the virus within weeks. »
These words are surprising when you know they emanate Medicine Nobel Prize 2008, just got to discover, in 1983, the virus that causes AIDS : HIV. But Professor Montagnier is not his first attempt in the matter. Already in 1990, he said on an American channel that HIV was not the only one involved in the new syndrome (citing the involvement of one or more infectious cofactors), and that its role could only be secondary in the destruction of the immune system of those infected. At the time, this is equivalent to completely exonerating the virus. This declaration triggered an outcry in the scientific community, which combines the virulent Professor Luc Montagnier Peter Duesberg, retrovirologist famous American University of Berkeley, in California, and leader of a group of scientists "dissidents" who challenges to today's involvement in the HIV syndrome. In 1993 and 1998, during the production of a documentary film about dissidents researchers, virologist at the Pasteur Institute reiterated my remarks, adding that people with a good immune system were protected against HIV infection. Already !
But beyond the surprising nature of the French virologist statements, it would be good to decrypt and to measure (in)aftermath. Tout d’abord, the consistency with which Luc Montagnier repeated the remarks in two decades, we reveal that fundamentally he never believed HIV as the primary and only cause of the syndrome. To ask whether today it assigns any role. And although he has always strongly condemned the position of the dissidents to AIDS, each new statements reconciles just over their hypothesis and away the advantage of the official thesis : HIV = AIDS. However, Luc Montagnier rejects any assimilation to Dissidents and remains one of the most fervent defender of the official AIDS research. This issue of équlibriste, the least risky, confers a position which allows him at all times, to switch from one camp to another, at the discretion of progress and looking doubts on AIDS. This attitude does not characterize great scientific courage,, or a very honest attitude vis-à-vis millions of people diagnosed with HIV and living with the fear of disease.
It is very unfortunate that the young American journalist who collected the recent remarks of Professor Montagnier, did not do incentive to reveal which allowed him to launch such statements. What scientific studies enabling it to draw these conclusions ? by whom were they carried out and have they been published ?? Also, we would like to know if people with a "good" immune system able to eliminate the virus, kept track of the infection ? In other words, Are HIV positive ? In the affirmative, and if you believe the assertions of Professor Montagnier, so there would be millions of HIV positive people in the world living with the anxiety of developing AIDS, while it is not so ! And many among them-to follow a treatment whose side effects are extremely toxic ones, and could therefore be very damaging them. This information is crucial and it is urgent to communicate to those concerned, so that they are informed about the safety of this virus and stop as soon as their treatments. But then, What will be the clinical and laboratory criteria that will determine which have curbed the infection and clear the virus ? And, on the contrary, these people are HIV negative (which would be very surprising to say the least), how to prove that they have been in contact with the virus if it did not leave any trace of its passage ?
We see the good, Luc Montagnier of this statement is far from trivial and challenges many aspects of AIDS research, starting with its etiology and pathogenesis.
Clearly Luc Montagnier has no scientific argument to support his statements. Or unmentionable ! as the discoverer of HIV would tip definitively in the camp of Dissidents. They revel statements of French virologist, seeing him (again) a strong ally facing the scientific community that always reviled them. But rather than seeing one of their own as a researcher always quick to change your mind, and also have always condemned them, Dissenters might question the foundations of recurrent assertions of Professor Montagnier, about the role of "his" virus in the syndrome.
For their part, those responsible for AIDS research have got used to ignore the words of the French virologist at odds with the established dogma. In the past, their criticisms were limited to simple formulas that refer to Luc Montagnier responsibility for his words, arguing that they had better things to do to fight against the scourge. However, the unease remains palpable vis-à-vis the former researcher at the Pasteur Institute. And that last statement will only increase it.
That is why, Today the words of Professor Luc Montagnier and the consequences they entail, calls urgently for a clarification of its position on the role of HIV in AIDS. It's the least we can expect from a Nobel Prize in Medicine.
The Nobel Prize answers
Interview by Pryska DUCOEURJOLY (for the January-February NEXUS magazine 2010. www.nexus.fr)
"My statement – taken out of context by a film in praise of "dissidents" and recovery by an internet site looking controversy – is based on observations I made while I was Director of the Centre of Reference on AIDS virology at the Pasteur Institute : we have been several cases of people with HIV for several months transitional, et redevenant séronégatives.
This is difficult to detect, given the stealth infection, but simply reflects, applied to AIDS, an existing general phenomenon in many viral infections : thereof, under the effect of a good immune response disappear within a few weeks.
In the case of HIV, this explains the enormous disparity between the prevalence in the north (0,1 % home), and south (5 – 10% in Africa). South, for many reasons (co-infections, malnutrition) the immune system of many Africans is weakened and leaves room for chronic HIV infection.
These cases of transient HIV status in any case minimize the dangers of HIV remains the key trigger of AIDS but they suggest that we can roll back the epidemic in Africa by general public health measures. »