Tom Keske

Statistical Analysis Linking U.S. AIDS   Outbreak to Hepatitis Experiments---Thomas R. Keske

Earliest AIDS
HIV and Visna
Flu pandemic of 1918
Biowar on a Budget
AIDS and Dengue Fever
National Security Advisors on AIDS
Biowar Bullying of Cuba

AIDS, Anthrax, and Religion
Dirty Politics

Dr. Robert Charles Gallo, in a just world, would be regarded as a prime suspect in the profound murder mystery that is known as the AIDS epidemic. Dr. Gallo acquired a certain notoriety for this attempts to steal credit for "discovering" the AIDS virus, from the French research team of Luc Montagnier. This overblown affair is a distraction from intrigues far more serious.

Dr. Gallo, in this college days, developed his skills in surgery by slaying scores of mice in a makeshift laboratory over his mother's garage. [1]. Between 1967 and 1974, preceding the outbreak of AIDS, he did extensive research into immune-destroying microorganisms. Much of this "cancer research" was under the auspices of Litton Bionetics, Bionetics Research Labs, and other known biological weapons contractors [2]

In 1975, the notorious, military biological war lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland changed its name to a "cancer research facility", under the authority of Gallo's NCI. [1]. Not all of Gallo's employees were happy campers, but speaking out was difficult. Said one employee, "Even though you stopped working there, you had to leave in harmony with your boss, or your chances of succeeding outside were practically zero. It was practically impossible to find an honest person at that place." The woman who told so, requesting anonymity, knew three colleagues who had committed suicide.

What was going in this lab that was plagued by mysterious deaths and an intimidating atmosphere of silence? An undeniable record of published research gives a clear picture. Since the early 1970s, Gallo's team investigated a veritable zoo of retroviruses, making cocktails of multiple viruses, providing the opportunity for exchanges of genetic materials between the viruses, as well as with the cultured cells. Retroviruses, you should remember, are the same category of virus that includes AIDS.

AIDS is believed to be derived from SIV, a simian retrovirus, found in monkeys and chimps. Gallo's virus cocktails included simian sarcoma viruses from monkeys, mice retroviruses, and Visna, another sheep retrovirus that is also similar to AIDS. The viruses and cells involved in the experiments also involved apes, cats, dogs, hamsters, and humans.

Gallo was ruthless and Machiavellian in his quest for personal glory. In 1975, one of his assistants, Doris Morgan, discovered IL-2, a protein stimulating the growth of T-cells. Gallo demanded that her team stop working on "useless molecules." Later, Gallo would come back and claim the credit for discovering IL-2, also known as Interleukin-2. When another researcher, Kalyanaraman, left Gallo's lab to work for the CDC, Gallo told him, "You ain't never going to have any retroviruses", and added, "I will destroy you."

In 1975, Gallo published articles describing the first human retrovirus, called HL-23. This corresponds to what Gallo would later rename as HTLV-1. The 1975 published research also makes it clear that Gallo and Gillespie succeeded in hybridizing the human HL-23 virus with other animal retroviruses [3]. Gallo did not wish to give out his virus to other labs. His subordinates told how they were ordered to contaminate the tumor cells before they were delivered to outside labs.

Gallo defended his behavior by saying "nevertheless, I'm more honest to others than they are to me." For a period of time in the early 1980s, Gallo and his colleague Max Essex would be the only researchers in the entire United States who received federal research money to investigate the cause of AIDS. What seeming clairvoyance, that this unique honor was bestowed on a man who had spent years manipulating retroviruses.

It was not yet known that AIDS would turn out to be a retrovirus. Unless, of course, it is yet another case of the fox investigating the chicken coop. On the contrary, Gallo at first furiously resisted the idea that AIDS might be caused by a retrovirus. Arthur Levine, a cancer researcher, phoned Gallo in 1982 and asked if knew what was happening to gay men in New York and San Francisco. Gallo said that he had not heard about it. Levine proposed that AIDS might be caused by something related to Gallo's virus, HTLV. Gallo told him "It is interesting", and simply hung up the receiver.

Gallo's close colleague, the renowned Harvard scientist Max Essex, started his own investigation, without Gallo's knowledge, to see if HTLV was related to AIDS. When Gallo found out, he exploded furiously- "How can you collaborate with me, when you are doing stuff behind my back?" For a solid 45 minutes, he berated Essex and another researcher, Mullins [1].

To others, it seemed clear that something similar to HTLV might be causing AIDS. The similarities of the symptoms of AIDS, and those produced by other retroviruses that Gallo, Don Francis, and Max Essex had been studying, seemed obvious enough. What made Gallo so inexplicably reluctant to study the possibility?

One possibility suggests itself- Gallo did not want it revealed that his own hybridization experiments may have unleashed the new monster. Perhaps it also occurred to Gallo that right-wing military and intelligence operatives connected with his labs had taken the new monster and used it to infect the country's most hated minority.

With Gallo's fame at a peak in 1989, he has a last gala performance, in which he was given an audience by the Pope. Between Gallo and the Pope, there was a common personal link- their friend Wolf Smuzness, who ran the hepatitis B vaccine trials on gay guinea pigs, immediately before AIDS first broke out [1].

[1] AIDS, the Human factor,

[2] Gulf War Syndrome and Treason,

[3] Band Played On, Randy Shilts, John Crewdson: The great AIDS quest, Chicago Tribune Seth Roberts: RAT, Spy

Tom Keske maintains an archive of essays for non-profit distribution providing authorship is recognised at

Tom Keske is a Boston, Mass based commission articles contact