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HIV VooDoo From Burroughs-Wellcome

By John Lauritsen
New York Native
7 Jan. 1991
[revised 16 Jan. 1991]

[Source: Duesberg on Aids]

Those who have eyes to see are witnessing genocide-the genocide of gay men. Millions of dollars are now being spent on an international advertising campaign, “Living With HIV”, in which gay men and other members of “risk groups” are being told:

Get tested for antibodies to HIV [the alleged “AIDS virus”] — if you “test positive” you need “medical intervention” which could “put time on your side”. The “medical intervention” is AZT (also known as Retrovir and zidovudine), and the campaign is paid for, directly and indirectly, by Burroughs-Wellcome, the manufacturer of AZT.

The campaign consists of a phoney diagnosis followed by a lethal treatment. Already tens of thousands of objectively healthy gay men have been scared and bullied and bamboozled into taking AZT, allegedly in order to “slow the progression to AIDS”. Optimism regarding their prognosis would be foolish. Except for the lucky few who stop “treatment” in time, they will die. Death is the expected biochemical consequence of taking AZT, for the fundamental action of the drug is to terminate DNA synthesis, the very life process itself. As Joseph Sonnabend has stated, “AZT is incompatible with life”. Without a single benefit demonstrated by honest and competent research, AZT can do nothing but kill.(1)

It is odd, the power of words to cloud reality or discredit a line of reasoning. A British journalist once told me that no one would ever believe what I wrote if I persisted in using words like “genocide”. My response is that, while I want my arguments to be convincing, I write what I consider to be true, not necessarily what people will find believable. Genocide has occurred at other times and in other places, and it is happening here and now, whether or not anyone wishes to believe it.

Craig Schoonmaker, the founder of Homosexuals Intransigent, has suggested the word “autogenocide”, to emphasize the role of low self-esteem and self-hatred in motivating gay men to acquiesce in their own destruction. Casper Schmidt, a New York City psychiatrist, has proposed “pharmacogenocide”-genocide through drugs. The late Robert S. Mendelsohn put forward the word “iatrogenocide” in his best seller, Confessions of a Medical Heretic: A new word was recently coined by Dr. Quentin Young to describe one activity of Modern Medicine: iatrogenocide. Iatrogenocide (iatros in the greek for doctors) is the systematic destruction of a large group of people by doctors.(2)

This new form of genocide, directed against gay men, rests on two pillars: Homophobia and Profit. The ancient taboo from the Holiness Code of Leviticus, which prescribed the death penalty for males who had sex with each other, is now being carried out, profitably, by the pharmaceutical industry: “If a man lie with mankind as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

Jewish priests 2500 years ago ordained death by stoning for the “abomination” of sex between males. Modern priests, the doctors, prescribe AZT, and they do so with the extraordinarily hypocritical dogma that by giving a life-terminating drug they are really “extending life”. Considering the agonizing side effects of AZT “treatment”, it might be argued that death by stoning were preferable.

Deadly Diagnosis + Lethal Treatment = Genocide

The weaknesses of the HIV-AIDS hypothesis have been discussed elsewhere.(3) Behind the scenes a growing number of important scientists are now convinced that HIV is not the cause of “AIDS”. The two “discoverers” of HIV, Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute and Robert Gallo on the National Cancer Institute, have both reneged on promises to defend the HIV-AIDS hypothesis against the criticisms of Peter Duesberg, and have therefore lost the debate by default.

What does it mean to be diagnosed as “HIV positive”? Objectively it means nothing, other than having antibodies to a harmless passenger virus. In the absence of “medical treatment” or other specific health risks, there is no reason why someone who is “HIV positive” should not live to a ripe old age.

The “HIV positive” diagnosis itself, however, can be deadly. It has led to suicides, has destroyed marriages and careers, and is used to justify AZT treatment. An East Berlin writer recently summed it up with the phrase, “Nicht das Virus, sondern die Diagnose totet”. (“The virus doesn’t kill, the diagnosis does.”)(4)

The toxicities of AZT have also been described elsewhere.(5) The short-term (acute) toxicities of AZT are serious, and many patients die of them. These toxicities include severe anemia, muscle disease, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and nerves. However, it is the long-term (chronic) toxicities that are of most concern when AZT is being prescribed for healthy people to take for the rest of their lives. The cumulative, long-term effects of AZT are unknown, since no one has lived for more than three years on AZT treatment. However, the evidence we have-including biochemical analyses, test tube studies, rodent studies, and correlations between cancer of the lymph system and AZT therapy-strongly indicates that AZT will cause cancer in the long run.

So then, perfectly healthy members of a group, which is hated for theological reasons, are persuaded through lies to take a drug that will kill them. If there’s a better word than “genocide” to describe this, I’d like to know what it is.

The Marketing of Genocide

Burroughs-Wellcome’s full-page “Living With HIV” advertisements have appeared in The New York Times and in lesser publications all over the world. In a typical ad, a man is shown in silhouette by a grand piano, his head bowed in dejection, and above his head the statement, “I learned I was HIV positive 5 years ago. I felt angry, deserted, and victimized.” At the bottom of the ad is an insert photograph of the same man, now smiling and confident: “Today I’m back in control.” The theme of “control” is echoed in the ad slogan, “The sooner you take control the better.” In all of the “Living With HIV” ads, the body copy is the same: Every day, more and more people are learning to live with HIV. People are finding ways to stay healthier, strengthen their immune systems, develop positive attitudes. They’ve found that proper diet, moderate exercise, even stress management can help. And now, early medical intervention could put time on your side.

Today, HIV positive doesn’t mean you have to give up. So, the sooner you take control, the better.

For more information on living with HIV, we urge you to call the number below …anonymously, if you wish.

Such phrases as “stay healthier” and “put time on your side” are insidious, as they suggest that someone with HIV antibodies is already sick and doomed. The references to diet, exercise, and so on are merely window dressing. Any HIV positive who calls the number will find out soon enough that “taking control” means “early medical intervention” means AZT.

In their nauseating hypocrisy, the Burroughs-Wellcome ads are reminiscent of a series of ads which in 1983 were run in gay publications for Great Lakes Products, the world’s largest manufacturer of poppers (nitrite inhalants). Entitled “Blueprint for Health”, the Great Lakes ads gave advice to gay men on how to stay healthy through exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, and so on. And this “message of good health and wellness” was sponsored by the manufacturer of poppers, a drug which, among other things, damages chromosomes; causes anemia, immune suppression, and cardio-vascular collapse; and forms carcinogenic compounds in the body.(6)

Concomitant with the Burroughs-Wellcome ads, The New York City Department of Health put up posters with the theme, “Living Longer, Staying Strong”, conveying essentially the same message, that “people with HIV” are sick and doomed, but might “stay healthy longer” with the help of “early health care and new medicines”.

Genocide doesn’t take holidays. On Christmas day I was listening to WINS radio, and heard a “Message on HIV” from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It was a virtual clone of the “Living with HIV” series. I called the number, and the woman who answered gave me the now-familiar pitch about the importance of getting tested, early medical intervention, and the rest of it.

The Gay Press Promotes Autogenocide

Gay publications all over the world, from local bar rags to those with international circulations, are now carrying the “Living with HIV” ads. The New York Native and the west coast magazine Outlook are the only exceptions I know of. According to an article by Chris Bull in The Advocate, Burroughs-Wellcome marketing representative Joe DiSabato found “little opposition to the ads from the gay press.” DiSabato richly deserves the 1990 gay Pollyanna prize for his statement, “In a way Burroughs Wellcome is giving money back to the community through the campaign. Economically, this will be great for the gay press.”

The German magazine Magnus received 20,000 DM to run a Burroughs-Wellcome ad, and a prominent gay activist with “AIDS” was recruited to assist in the campaign. A Burroughs-Wellcome ad appeared in the latest issue of Babilonia, from Milan.

In Houston, the Body Positive group received $85,000 plus donations of computers and other equipment from Burroughs-Wellcome. In return, Body Positive ran under its own name a series of television, radio, billboard, and press advertisements with the theme, “We can’t get results until you do.” For those who would test positive, the ads offered the bleak hope, “There’s a chance for a longer and healthier life with early medical intervention.” Houston’s mayor, Kathy Whitmire, proclaimed September the “Get Tested Now” month, stating that, “prompt medical and psychological intervention can slow down the progress of the [HIV] disease and ameliorate some of its effects.”

Some of the ads in the gay press were sponsored by branches of the Public Health Service, paid for with our tax money. One such ad, which ran in Au Courant (Philadelphia), contained the following copy: Today, people with HIV are doing something most of us didn’t think possible. Living longer. Today, a person who is infected with HIV and receives prompt treatment can live longer. If you are at risk [read: if you are gay], now’s the time to seek counseling and testing. If you are infected with HIV, work with a doctor to understand medical options that may prolong your life.

The psychology of genocide

In formulating hypotheses on what might be the real causes of “AIDS”, multifactorialists who reject the HIV-AIDS hypothesis have concentrated on such probable etiological factors as “recreational” drug use, known and yet-to-be-identified infectious agents, and excessive medical treatment with antibiotics and other drugs. We have, regrettably, tended to slight psychological factors. This is unfortunate, as the concept of psychosomatic illness is well established. There can be no doubt that extreme and chronic fear, depression, stress, and grief are capable of causing illness and death.

In 1983 the Journal of Psychohistory published a paper by Casper Schmidt, which was perhaps the first to challenge the “AIDS virus” hypothesis.(7) Entitled “The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS”, this brilliantly original essay advances the thesis that epidemic AIDS has a psychosocial origin-that AIDS is psychologically contagious, being spread through suggestion rather than through microbes. In Schmidt’s view, we are witnessing a mass sacrificial ritual, with sadistic persecutors on one side and willing (masochistic) sacrificial victims on the other. The extraordinary irrationality that characterizes the AIDS epidemic can be explained through the concept of group fantasy-people are collectively in a trance.

Schmidt is somewhat more tentative in trying to explain why gay men and other members of “risk groups” are getting sick in ways that qualify for a diagnosis of “AIDS”. He proposes that chronic and inescapable fear can elicit a biochemical reaction in the body, which in time causes “psychogenically-reduced cell-mediated immunity”. He maintains that this hypothesis has fulfilled the animal model for “AIDS”, inasmuch as laboratory animals subjected to inescapable threats have developed immune deficiency. While I withhold judgment on this aspect of Schmidt’s thesis, I wholeheartedly agree that a sacrificial ritual is taking place. Especially noteworthy, in my opinion, is the role of the facilitators-those gay men (and lesbians) who are leading the victims to the sacrificial altar, without necessarily allowing themselves to be sacrificed.

In this second wave of sacrifices, in which perfectly healthy people are being targeted for genocide, a crucial role is played by psychological suggestion. Highly sophisticated psychological techniques are being used to make gay men perceive themselves as sick, and become sick, in order to qualify as consumers of AZT. The “Living With HIV” campaign is, quite literally, a form of voodoo.

Michael Ellner, the president of the Health Education AIDS Liaison (HEAL), recently posed the question of whether un-recognized hypnosis might not be a risk factor in the development of “AIDS”. A certified master hypnotherapist himself, Ellner believes that classic elements of hypnosis are present in the “Living With HIV” campaign, in innumerable pronouncements from AIDS groups and public health agencies, and in a recent video from Burroughs-Wellcome (about which more below). Ellner cited the elements of hypnotism as being, in no particular order: perceived authority, fixation, suggestion, repetition, confusion, relaxation, imagination, and post-hypnotic suggestion.

In a recent paper by Michael Ellner and Andrew Cort, “Programmed to Die: Cultural Hypnosis and AIDS”, the following points are made: Bone pointing, or voodoo death, is a well-documented hypnotic phenomenon that clearly demonstrates the awesome power of belief. There are people in Africa, Haiti and Australia with the belief that the shaman (or witch doctor) has power over life and death. For them, being the target of a bone pointed by such an authority can be fatal. The hex is harmless to a non-believer; but to a believer it is deadly. After having a bone pointed at them, healthy people go home and obediently die.(8)

A Burroughs-Wellcome video: Brainwashing the doctors

A few months ago, doctors who treat AIDS patients received a video cassette from Burroughs-Wellcome, “The Psychology of Treating Patients With HIV Disease”. The basic premises of the video are the same as those of the “Living With HIV” campaign, that “HIV infection” and “AIDS” are more or less equivalent, and that early medical intervention (with AZT/Retrovir) is called for. Beyond this, doctors are told to “ally with the treatment”, by knocking down any hesitation or objections their “HIV-infected” patients might have to going and staying on AZT therapy.

The video is narrated by Leon McKusick, Ph.D., a gay psychologist in San Francisco. In the beginning his voice is heard saying: HIV disease is coming to be seen as a chronic infection. And for many individuals this is the first intimate realization of death and disease, particularly among those who are relatively young.

After McKusick introduces himself, he quickly gets to the point: The decisions surrounding the initiation of Retrovir therapy force you, the physician, to evaluate the patient’s support network…. This video will share with you the psychological reactions we’ve seen from patients who are diagnosed positive for the HIV antibodies, and then alert you to the emotions that follow as they encounter the progression of the disease and then are motivated towards treatment with Retrovir.

McKusick describes “HIV-related depression”, emphasizing that the symptoms mimic those of HIV infection itself, as well as “some of the early side effects of AZT”. In other words, if a patient on AZT should experience sleep disturbance, eating problems, fatigue, or weight loss, these might be merely short-term “HIV-related depression”, rather than side effects of AZT.

For physicians to “assist individuals going through emotional depression reacting to HIV or going on treatment”, McKusick offers the following guidelines: enlightened reassurance, cognitive reframing, social support, reinforce structure, plan of action. In commenting on the video, Michael Ellner has expressed the opinion that “cognitive reframing” means hypnotizing or brainwashing the patient.

The video features a panel discussion, with two doctors and a number of people with AIDS (PWAs). Like McKusick, the other two authority figures are gay and are identified with title: Marcus Conant, M. D., and Ron Grossman, M. D., whereas the PWAs are identified simply as “Bob”, “Steve”, “Tom”, and “Bill”. Drs. McKusick, Conant and Grossman are understanding facilitators. Bob, Steve, Tom, and Bill are willing victims.

Grossman argues that “AIDS” ought to renamed as “HIV spectrum”. His words are regarded by his colleagues as profound and original.

McKusick says, “Sometimes it’s best to combat feelings of stigmatization with a sense of humor.” He smiles. The camera shifts to Conant, who tries to smile-but his face is heavy and his eyes are dead tired. And then Bob tells an anecdote. It seems he was in a play writing workshop when the timer of his AZT pill box went off: Twenty pairs of eyes zeroed in on me. The only thing I could do, I took out the pill box and turned it off-and they were still looking-so obviously I had to respond to it-so I made a joke out of it. I said, “It’s a phenomenon of the latter part of the 20th century in the United States. Every four hours, gay men start to beep.”

Bob stops speaking. It becomes apparent that the point of his joke has been made, and that people are expected to laugh. They begin laughing. The camera goes from one person to another to show them laughing. They applaud Bob’s performance.

Clearly Bob is intended to be a role model. He states, “As soon as I started taking action, I started feeling better…. Action is the key to salvation.”

The prickly topic of AZT’s side effects is raised. McKusick asserts that the physicians role ought to be “helping the patient realize that their fears were unfounded.” Robert makes a joke about “horror stories” of side effects. Everyone laughs.

McKusick then declares that anxiety symptoms are very much like both HIV symptoms and early symptoms of AZT side effects. He artfully sows confusion by stating:

Sometimes a person could benefit medically from the drug, but could reject the drug for psychological reasons. Some patients, who have just begun AZT, have complained about side effects which, once they’ve talked about it with their counsellors, were determined to be more related to their anxiety about being on the drug, than to the drug itself…. Sometimes a person could benefit medically from the treatment, but rejects the drug for psychological reasons, after being on it for just a brief period. Therefore, it’s important to recognize that some of your patients’ early reactions may be psychological.

Bob makes his contribution: “I have to say-Thank God! — that I have had no side effects whatsoever.” Bob clearly is not well. His skin is stretched taut over a death’s head, and his facial expressiveness is limited to rolling his eyes. He mentions a few symptoms, which he attributes to HIV, and says, “I can handle that”. He laughs bravely.

McKusick commends Bob on the way he “handles attribution”. It’s very important”, says McKusick, “to ally with the drug against the disease.” The single most stomach-turning episode in the video is provided by the New York physician, Ron Grossman, who smiles as he delivers the following little speech:

That pill should be an absolute symbol of life, and not a symbol of “Oh, I’ve got this….” (Marcus Conant nods in agreement) The whole issue of empowerment here, of people taking charge of their own lives, is involved with this decision making, to take this drug.

To summarize: The whole thrust of the video is to downplay AZT’s side effects. Doctors are to dismiss their patients’ objections to AZT therapy as “psychological”, as short-term depression or anxiety. The loyalty of the doctor should be to Retrovir (“the treatment”) rather than to the patient (“the disease”). The hidden message to doctors is that they should not hesitate to kill their patients.

The hidden message to gay men is this: “You are doomed. Be brave, willing sacrificial victims. People will applaud you, and laugh at your jokes. Do not listen to the messages of your body.”

Who is responsible?

Unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies, corrupt government officials, venal physicians, stupid and cowardly media people, incompetent and dishonest researchers-none of these things are new. They are business as usual. Where, then, does the buck stop? Who is responsible for pharmacogenocide?

My thinking on this question was altered recently when I read Confessions of a Medical Heretic by Robert Mendelsohn, who uncompromisingly places the blame on the members of his own profession: Despite the obvious corruption of the drug company/doctor marketing connection, I don’t blame the drug companies, the detail men, the government agencies which are supposed to police these activities, or the patients who badger their doctors for drugs. Doctors have enough facts in their possession to know what’s going on. Even where the drug is fully tested and the side effects and limitations of the drug are well known, most of the harm is done by doctors indiscriminately prescribing the drug. Doctors, after all, are the ones who claim the sacred power and the ethical superiority that goes with it. The drug companies are in business to make money, and they do that by selling as much of their product as they can at as high a price as they can. And although the drug companies subvert the scientific process through which drugs are tested, certified, and made available to doctors, once the drugs are available, they do let doctors know-albeit subtly-just what these drugs can and cannot do.

All of us who know the truth about AZT will have to do what we can. Friends who are on AZT must be told directly and forcefully that they must get off the drug if they want to live. Public health officials, representatives of AIDS organizations, and various and sundry other “AIDS experts” must be confronted with their lies. Above all, doctors must be told that they have no right to prescribe a drug that can only lead to the deaths of their patients. The buck stops with the AZT-pushing doctors. They are responsible. *


  1. John Lauritsen, Poison By Prescription: The AZT Story, New York 1990.
  2. Robert S. Mendelsohn, Confessions of a Medical Heretic, Chicago 1979.
  3. The most cogent and comprehensive arguments against the HIV-AIDS hypothesis are found in Peter H. Duesberg, “Human Immunodeficiency Virus And Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome:

Correlation But Not Causation”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 86 (February 1989) pp. 755-764.

Peter H. Duesberg and Bryan J. Ellison, “Is the AIDS Virus a Science Fiction?”, Policy Review, Summer 1990, pp. 40-51.

  1. Erhard Neubert, “Kunstprodukt ‘AIDS’ in Schwierigkeiten” (“The Phony AIDS Construct in Trouble”), Raum & Zeit (Space & Time), Special 4, Sauerlach, Germany, October 1990, pages 98-102. (The entire 115-page special issue of Raum & Zeit is devoted to German, Swiss, and American AIDS dissidents, who attack the AIDS orthodoxies with much intelligence and militancy. My favorite phrase, “Nur tote Fische schwimmen mit dem Strom!” [“Only dead fish swim with the stream!”])
  2. Poison By Prescription.
  3. The toxicities of poppers and the shady dealings of the poppers industry are described in Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS, by John Lauritsen and Hank Wilson, New York 1986.
  4. Casper G. Schmidt, “The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS”, The Journal of Psychohistory, Summer 1983.
  5. Michael Ellner and Andrew Cort, “Programmed to Die: Cultural Hypnosis and AIDS”, manuscript 1990.