American Scientist Says He Will Infect Himself With HIV to Disprove Link to AIDSDr. David Rasnick, an American chemist who does not think that HIV causes AIDS, and South African professor Philip Machanick have agreed to a challenge whereby Rasnick will intentionally infect himself with HIV to prove that it does not cause disease, and Machanick will take AIDS drugs to prove they are not toxic, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. Under the agreement, which has been fleshed out in a "heated exchange" of letters appearing in a Johannesburg paper, Rasnick would inject himself with HIV on television and the two would meet annually to compare health results. However, many observers say the deal will never come to fruition. "This is a case of two people making offers they know it will never be possible to take up," Udo Schuklenk, a professor of bioethics at the University of Witwatersrand, said, noting that "Machanick is never going to get a doctor to prescribe him medication for a disease he doesn't have." Machanick himself appears to think the deal will not proceed as planned because Rasnick will stipulate that he be injected with a "highly purified" virus, a condition that is "impossible." However, Rasnick, who served on President Thabo Mbeki's AIDS advisory panel that failed to determine whether the virus and AIDS are linked, said he has "nothing at all to fear from AIDS" (Itano, Sydney Morning Herald, 2/4).
A 'Bizarre Game of Chicken'
The "only thing that could make this [challenge] any more ludicrous would be to have Jack Kevorkian administer the medications," a Florida Times-Union editorial states, likening the contest to a "bizarre game of chicken." The editorial concludes, "Given the seriousness and magnitude of the AIDS problem, it would seem two highly educated people could find a more constructive way of using their time. The losers of this game are already evident" (Florida Times-Union, 1/29).