Rethinking AIDS Remembers Dr. Gordon Stewart

Compiled by David Crowe
May, 2017


Gordon StewartRethinking AIDS wishes to honor the memory of Dr. Gordon Stewart, one of our board members until his death in October, 2016. He was a highly respected, well credentialed member of the medical establishment who was never afraid to criticize when he thought some mainstream dogma was wrong. He did this with the Whooping Cough vaccine, but most importantly and most notably, with HIV/AIDS, starting in 1984.

Gordon Stewart had stepped outside the bounds of polite medical-scientific discourse a long time ago, well before the era of AIDS. Back in 1968, when he was a Professor of Epidemiology and Pathology at the University of North Carolina, he wrote an article entitled, Limitations of the Germ Theory in Lancet, starting with the heretical (to mainstream MDs at least) observation, “The germ theory has become a dogma because it neglects the many other factors which have a part to play in deciding whether the host/germ/environment complex is to lead to infection. Among these are susceptibility, genetic constitution, behaviour, and socioeconomic determinants.”

In 1999, Gordon Stewart wrote an article called A Paradigm Under Pressure, in which he said, “In 1989 also, the Royal Society organized a learned symposium on epidemiology. With few caveats, this endorsed earlier predictions of tens of thousands of cases in the UK by 1992. When I suggested that this was exactly what was not happening, the editor of the Society’s Transactions generously invited me to submit my data and analysis of the problem. A four-year correspondence ensued, of questions by numerous peer-reviewers and answers by myself, which ended in 1994 when my paper was finally rejected. Among the two-inch file of correspondence amassed in that time were such comments as ‘Why should I read a paper by someone who believes the earth is flat?’, and ‘the alternative proposed by the author provides no coherent criticism of the accepted position, for reasons that were well articulated in the national press following the notorious Duesberg Channel 4 program.’ The first comment says more, I think, about the reviewer, than about my paper, while the latter defies belief. That peer reviewers selected for their specialist knowledge should take a cue from the popular press is somewhat unusual, to say the least. Meanwhile, the passage of time showed that my predictions made in 1989 were accurate to within 10 percent of actual registrations of AIDS, whereas those published in the symposium, official projections, and other expert quarters were exaggerated, often by orders of magnitude. It seemed that I was right for the wrong reasons whereas they were wrong for the right reasons – a not impossible contingency, which should have provoked debate.

Gordon StewartIn 2000, in a letter to Lancet, co-authored with Andrew Herxheimer (also recently deceased) and RA board members Etienne de Harven, Christian Fiala and Klaus Koehnlein, he co-wrote, “Confronted as [South African President Mbeki] is with an immense increase in transmission, suffering, and deaths from diseases associated with HIV/AIDS, President Mbeki has openly explained to his people, parliament, his advisers, and the invited professional panel the main reasons for his concern and action. He has also invited President Clinton and other Heads or Chief Officers of State to consider evidence that AIDS in Africa is so fundamentally different in transmission and severity from what is apparent in North America and Europe that it requires separate attention, freed from the constraints of an orthodoxy whose spokesmen have already voiced contempt for his initiative. The allegation in your columns that he is motivated by irresponsible dissidents endorses this contempt and is a gross discourtesy to a respected Head of State.”

In another letter, this time in a letter to Nature, entitled The Durban Declaration is not accepted by all, along with the same authors and more, he co-wrote, “Our objection to the Durban Declaration is factual and verifiable from data published in the early 1980s. We believe that World Health Organization (WHO) figures produced since then can be interpreted to say that AIDS first appeared and spread, not in Africa but in US urban clusters of mainly white, affluent, promiscuous homosexual men and drug addicts, and then spread, on a lesser scale, in Europe and Australasia but hardly at all in Asia. Disastrous epidemics due to heterosexual transmission of HIV were confidently predicted in general populations of developed countries6 but they never happened.”

In 2007 Gordon wrote a book review of The AIDS Panic, a book by then retired WHO scientist James Chin, saying that, “Since 1989, and in the face of other contrary evidence, Nature has taken a lead among professional journals in repeatedly endorsing inflated reports and panic predictions by UN AIDS and the consensus of a pandemic which can only be controlled by specific antiretroviral drugs and vaccines. Alternative predictions and the passage of time have repeatedly negated these pessimistic estimates with verifiable data proving above all that persons and communities who avoid or desist from obvious risks in behaviour with sex, reproduction and drugs escape the overloads of infections, loss of natural immunity and vitality which lead to AIDS.” Perhaps embarrassed by such criticism from such a renowned scientist and doctor, Nature reacted by refusing to publish the review.

In 2008 he published an article on the Rethinking AIDS website, entitled, “An Alternative to the HIV Hypotheses of the Causation of AIDS”, with the following abstract:

This article questions the orthodox, consensual view of a global pandemic of AIDS due exclusively to heterosexual and perinatal transmission of HIV. It offers instead an alternative epidemiological analysis of validated data and experience in the passage of time since 1982 showing that outbreaks of diseases registrable officially as AIDS in countries with adequate facilities for surveillance and djfferential diagnosis occur mainly or only in communities of homo– and bisexual men, drug addicts and their consorts who engage in or are subjected to highly communicable risk behaviours conducive to overloads of sexual and other infections, malnutrition, loss of immunity and vitality. Except in these communities, AIDS is uncommon or entirely absent. Epidemics due exclusively to heterosexual transmission of HIV never happened in the UK or in general populations of other developed countries in which AIDS is an unnatural, often self–inflicted disease, wholly avoidable or preventable in both sexes and perinatally by recognition of high risk situations and behaviours. In sub–Saharan and some other developing countries, risks are wider, diverse and probably relate to RNA and activity of other retroviruses in the human genome causing false positive reactions in serological tests and PCRs, additionally to those known to be caused by bacterial infections. But higher, direct risks arise from abuses, exploitation and neglect of women and girls, and from incalculable overlaps with lethal, indigenous diseases and disorders linked to deprivations and unmanageable 3–4 fold growth of populations since the 1960’s.

Remarks by Rethinking AIDS Board Members

Etienne de Harven

I am extremely sad to finally learn the news of our dear Gordon having passed away. His contributions to the Rethinking AIDS movement have been monumental and we shall never forget him. He deserves a full page on the Emeritus section on the RA web site. My former wife and I were very fortunate to have the pleasure of visiting Gordon and his most charming wife Neena many, many times in south of France, in Villefranche (not far from Nice) where they owned a lovely apartment with a wide view on the Mediterranean sea that he liked so much. I shall always remember seeing Gordon, bravely scaling rocks to walk down to the sea and swim when he was already over 90! Or setting up for painting on the terrace of their apartment. He was a most attentive and constructive reviewer of the manuscript of my book on “Ten Lies on Aids”! What a terrible loss, both humanitarian and scientific. Semper fidelis…. Etienne.

Charles Geshekter

I never met Gordon Stewart but we corresponded in the late 1990s about the many dubious and absurd statistics regarding AIDS and HIV in selected African countries. His lucid enunciation of the many grotesque errors and faux predictions of the doomsday African researchers was a model of scientific integrity and professional discipline Whenever my own writings on AIDS in Africa were challenged, I would send Stewart's essay, "Paradigm Under Pressure", and request a response, with appropriate sources (thank you very much). Dogmatic defenders of the AIDS orthodoxy could only respond with crude vulgarities or vapid non sequiturs. They provided me with compelling indicators that the intellectual muscles of the African AIDS orthodoxy had seriously atrophied. Put under serious pressure by the gifted Dr. Stewart they were unable to maintain any semblance of a scientific debate.

I deeply mourn his passing but his exemplary writings will live on for all of us. My condolences to his widow and their entire family.

Christian Fiala

It is really sad that Gordon is not anymore among us. We will miss him and his contributions. He was so right in so many cases but even refused acknowledgement of his work on HIV and AIDS in retrospect. How disgraceful. But I guess that is business as usual in the power play.

Roberto Giraldo

I am very sad to know that Gordon passed away, there will always be a special place in my heart for this real and honest scientist, there were very few like him.

Henry Bauer

When I first collated published results on HIV tests and saw that this proved that what was being detected was not an infectious agent, I was dumbfounded that such an obvious conclusion had not been pointed out before. But I'm not an epidemiologist or a statistician, so I asked for help from professionals: the Army HIV Research Office; the CDC; several local people. The first two of course brushed me off. The local people were not willing to get involved. But Gordon Stewart responded promptly, helpfully, encouragingly, and his name is in the Acknowledgments of the book that I might never have dared write without Gordon's assurance that my inferences were sound. Subsequently we co-authored a variety of short, meaty pieces that were invariably rejected by Nature, typically by return mail and always without substantive comment. I regret never having met Gordon in person. His work demonstrates that he was what one hopes a scientist to be, honest with the facts and persistent in defending ethical principles.

Helen Lauer

What a horrible shock. My condolences to those who were close to Gordon Stewart.

I first learned of his courage and integrity through Serge Lang's searing indictment of American medical ethical monitoring agencies and academic organisations for their support of the criminal pretensions of the HIV/AIDS medical community with particular emphasis on the vagaries of the Academy of Sciences, NIH, the key con artists, the press and the bad science itself. Lang quoted Stewart at length, published in his opus Challenges (1998) New York: Springer, as one of his experts with integrity and authority, one of the first to stand on their credentials to speak truth to power at great personal and professional risk.

Joan Shenton

I am so very sorry to hear that Gordon Stewart has died. I used to keep in touch with Gordon and his wife Neena but we somehow drifted apart. I extend my deepest sympathy to Neena.

I worked closely with Gordon for many years. He was an official adviser to Meditel Productions when we were making our series for Channel 4 “Kill of Cure”. It was Gordon who helped with the litigation against Ciba-Geiegy linked to SMON (Subacute Myelo-Optic Neuropathy). This was a paralysis and blindness caused by the anti-diarrhoeal Entero-Vioform which contained clioquinol. Ciba Geigy had previously claimed that clioquinol was not absorbed through the gut and therefore could not cause the damage. However, Gordon remembered a research film and an article in an Argentine medical journal in 1937 that showed rabbits given cliquinol going blind and being unable to move.

Gordon was an elegant and inveterate letter writer. He did a great deal to support the AIDS dissident standpoint. He fiercely challenged the government's alarmist statistics about the spread of AIDS. I devoted part of Chapter 5 “Plague Terror” of my book [Positively False] to Gordon's battle for the truth about AIDS figures.

Extract from “Positively False - Exposing the myths around HIV and AIDS” pp 63-65, Chapter 5 - “Plague Terror”

Then in October 1988 the official government Cox Committee, which was advising the then Health Minister, David Mellor, reported its predictions. These were set within wide limits and predicted between 1590 and 15,440 new cases per year to give a cumulative total of 8000 to 34,077 cases by the end of 1992. None of this happened. By the beginning of 1990 there was a cumulative total (since 1982) of 2800 registered AIDS cases (142 allegedly from heterosexual contact) and by 1992 a total of 6929 cases. The Cox Committee had estimated a mean figure of 17,125 (8000-34077) – an overestimate of 147 per cent.

David Mellor a few years later conceded that too much public money had been spent on AIDS awareness campaigns directed at heterosexuals, but claimed he had felt pressured because of the alarming predictions of spread the committee had come up with. He had, he felt, been sorely ill-advised and would be prepared to say so in any future documentary we might be making.During this period, Professor Gordon Stewart had been making strong efforts to get an article printed in which he based his predictions for AIDS on risk behaviour rather than the sexually infectious hypothesis. He maintained that even if Duesberg’s arguments on HIV were laid aside, the epidemiological evidence did not support the idea that HIV was a sufficient cause of AIDS. Stewart is an eminent scientist and epidemiologist, famous for his work cleaning up early penicillin to get rid of allergenic residues, and developing the new penicillins. For many years he was Professor of Public Health at Glasgow University.

Stewart wrote to the MRC and to the Department of Health suggesting that the predictions were dangerously exaggerated when compared with trends since 1982. They did not respond. He then wrote to the Royal Society, which expressed interest initially but held on to Stewart’s paper until 1994 when it finally rejected it. Communications with Nature, the British Medical Journal, the New England Journal of Medicine and other journals were also rejected until The Lancet finally published a short letter from Stewart in 1993, accompanied by a cautious editorial comment.

Looking back on his figures, which strongly criticised the Cox Committee’s position (presented by various invited experts at the Royal Society’s Symposium in 1989), we find that Stewart was extraordinarily accurate. His predictions made in 1989 (which he had conveyed early in 1990 to the MRC and to the Royal Society) of 1254 cases in the UK in 1991 could not have been closer. The actual total of registered cases was 1275. Stewart’s overall predictions for the decade 1982-92 were also extremely close. He predicted 6540 cases and the actual total was 6929.Remember that Cox had quoted 12,750 or more for planning in this period.

Professor Stewart had been one of our scientific advisers through many of our science and medical programmes for television. We were in close touch with him when he made his predictions in 1989 and read all his correspondence with the different science journal editors. He was deeply frustrated. He was the only senior public health expert who offered a learned and detailed critique of the government’s position, and not a single medical body or journal would give him an inch of space.

He says, ‘The blank refusal of all the main medical societies and colleges, and nearly all the journals, to face the facts about AIDS is scandalous, and is probably the chief reason for the failure to develop a rational strategy to prevent a continuation of spread in the main risk groups and Third World countries.’ Stewart also says:

Apart from the accuracy (and mathematical simplicity of) my predictions, the main implications are (1) that the hypothesis that HIV is the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS is not supported on epidemiological grounds; (2) that AIDS is not spreading except in groups engaging in or subjected to high-risk behaviour; and (3) that there is no evidence in the USA, UK and northern Europe at least of any appreciable spread by heterosexual transmission or by vertical transmission to infants except from mothers in high-risk groups.

Stewart’s projections for this period have been analysed by statistician Barrie Craven Ph.D., of the University of Northumbria. Together with other data from official sources, Craven has shown the absurdity of the pattern of expenditure on AIDS prevention across the world. He has also highlighted the questionable estimates for the spread of AIDS in Third World countries and pointed to the implications of his findings on future expenditure on AIDS. However, the censorship surrounding anyone challenging HIV meant that Stewart’s views were completely ignored by the establishment.