The Australian – 26th October 2006
AN HIV-positive man convicted of endangering the lives of three girlfriends is attempting to turn conventional science on its head by denying the existence of the virus that leads to AIDS. Andre Chad Parenzee was convicted in February of endangering the lives of three women and faces 15 years in prison. One of the women now has HIV.
This week, he enlisted the expert evidence of two self-styled researchers – both members of the so-called Perth Group – who have used the witness stand to attack the “HIV myth”.
In what is believed to be an international legal and medical first, South Australian Supreme Court judge John Sulan has set aside two weeks effectively to put HIV on trial.
Prosecutors have prepared several expert witnesses to shore up more than two decades of global research – which underpins public health and safe sex campaigns – that HIV causes AIDS and is contracted through unprotected sex.
Prosecutors objected in this week’s leave-to-appeal hearing to Parenzee’s witnesses’ status as “experts” but Justice Sulan said he would address the objection after their evidence was heard.
The court heard argument from Parenzee’s counsel, Kevin Borick, who is working pro bono, that his client’s conviction cannot stand if HIV is based on flimsy science.
His expert witnesses received no money for their appearance this week, but their airfares from Perth were paid for by Parenzee’s mother.
Perth-based medical physicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, who has a Bachelor of Science and works as a medical engineer at Royal Perth Hospital, told the court that HIV was mistakenly identified by a French scientific team in 1983, which was headed by Luc Montagnier.
In a 50-page Powerpoint presentation, Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos said AIDS had nothing to do with HIV, which – if it existed at all – was not a retrovirus and not transmitted between people by sexual intercourse.
Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos argued that HIV had never been isolated, and was only identified in 1983 by a process called “reverse transcription”, which is said to create retroviruses.
She said the reverse transcription observed by Dr Montagnier in 1983, the so-called “discovery of HIV”, was not specific to HIV.
She said the main risk factors for getting AIDS remained the passive role in anal intercourse, and intravenous drug use.
Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos claimed AIDS was caused by prolonged exposure to semen, which oxidised cells, degrading them and led to numerous other serious illnesses – the AIDS-related illnesses – which end in death.
Secondly, she cited numerous scientific papers that concluded that vaginal sex did not transmit HIV.
Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos cited a 1997 published paper by University of California researcher Nancy Padian that calculated the risk of a male transmitting HIV to a female at 0.0009 per cent, for each act of vaginal intercourse.
According to the Padian paper, a man would have to have sex with his wife three times a week for 27.4 years to expose her to a 95 per cent risk of passing on HIV.
Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos’s colleague at the Perth Group, Val Turner, testified that the testing of HIV was “indirect” – it measured the presence of proteins and antibodies in blood assumed to be triggered by HIV.
Mr Turner said there was no test to directly detect HIV.