An Encounter with Dr. Robert Gallo in Albany.

Dr. Robert Gallo, the man who kick-started the entire AIDS enterprise, spoke in Albany, New York at a lecture organized by the State Department of Health.

Dr. Gallo was the co-discoverer of HIV, at least he had that title after the resolution of a controversy when he claimed to have discovered a retrovirus that had previously been sent to his lab by a French researcher, Dr. Luc Montagnier (the other "co-discoverer"). Dr. Gallo also patented and profited from the HIV test.

He gave a slide presentation, in which he showed only a comptuter graphic of the elusive HIV, and he acknowledged the toxicity of AIDS drugs. At the end, he took questions from the audience, and I asked one of the two questions.

The question began "Since Nobel Prize Winner Kary Mullis disagrees with your idea about HIV...."

At that point Gallo interrupted, saying that Mullis was only one, and there were a hundred Nobel Prize winners who support Gallo's view.

Which was a nice lead-in to the second "since" clause: "...and since the majority view in science has sometimes been proven wrong..."

And he interrupted again. Perhaps he does not know that a "since" clause cannot end a question in the English language. But finally, I was able to finish the question: "...would it not be advantageous from the point of view of future patients and victims to have an open forum at which questions raised by scientists such as Dr. Mullis and others can be discussed and answered?"

Gallo never really answered that question, but instead criticized Peter Duesberg (whom I had not mentioned) and said that he didn't know what more they could do to answer concerns, they have done so many experiments, so many papers..... He finished with a statement about HIV causing AIDS that brought some applause.

Afterwards, there was a reception, and the Health Department officials were happy to talk to me, perhaps to keep me from speaking to Gallo. Nonetheless, at the end Gallo joined them and said he'd be glad to spend as much time debating as I wanted, which I indicated I would do...., at which point the Health Department people reminded him he had to catch a plane. A wiser man might have taken the exit cue gratefully, but Gallo could not let go of the Mullis comment (perhaps Gallo's Nobel Prize-lessness rankles), and said "You know, Mullis is [only?] a biochemist." I had a ready rejoinder: "And you are using his test on AIDS patients, and he does not agree that is valid." With that, the entourage left.

Why is there such reluctance to have an open discussion and debate on AIDS policy and its foundations?

The reason Dr. Kary Mullis got into the controversy was that he could not find a scientific reference to back up the statement "HIV is the probably cause of AIDS". Although Gallo published several early papers on the subject, none of them nor his subsequent work can be cited as demonstrating that HIV is probably responsible for AIDS.