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"Healing Autism: No Finer a Cause on the Planet"
New Jersey Paper Examines Vaccine, AIDS Connection Author Contends
Saturday, January 01, 2000
[Written by Carol Ann Campbell, December 26, 1999, Front page of the
Sunday Star-Ledger. Thanks to Raymond Gallup.]
Patient No. 6 baffled James Oleske. The pediatrician couldn't
understand the little girl's mysterious symptoms, such as sepsis, and a rare
pneumonia he had never seen before. For some unknown reason, the child's
immune system was failing to protect her from these strange infections.
"We tried to save her," Oleske recalled from his Newark office at the
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. "I was working as best I
Still, the child died in 1979 at the age of 5. But Oleske saved a
blood sample. Years later, as tests became available, he learned the child
died of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Today, the case of Patient No. 6 is at the center of a provocative and
much-disputed theory about the origins of AIDS.
British author David Hooper, in a 1,000-page book that's being
ferociously debated, argues that AIDS may have been started by a type of
oral polio vaccine, called CHAT, that was given to people in Africa - and to
babies born at a New Jersey women's prison. The early vaccine was given to
people in the late 1950's.
Hooper says the mother of Patient No. 6 may have been one of the
babies given the CHAT vaccine at Clinton Farms, now the Edna Mahan Women's
Correctional Facility in Clinton Township. The prison was the only place in
the United States where the CHAT vaccine was administered, he said.
The case of patient No. 6 is important because if the child was
infected by the mother at birth - which is likely because her symptoms
started at the age of 6 months - her infection took place in 1973 or 1974.
That makes her among the first documented cases of AIDS in America.
Hooper theorizes that the AIDS epidemic in America did not come from
Africa, but instead originated from the CHAT vaccine given to babies at
Clinton Farms. He argues that different types of HIV originated from
different batches of the CGAT polio vaccine.
That's why, he says, the type of HIV that predominates in America and
Europe is different from the one found mostly in Africa, where the vaccine
was given to millions of people in the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi between
1957 and 1960.
"Why, in the middle of New Jersey in 1973, do we see this virus?"
asked Hooper. "The fact is that this was the one place in the United States
where this vaccine was put to test." Many scientists believe HIV, the virus
that causes AIDS, evolved from a simian virus found in chimpanzees, probably
when African hunters butchered the primates and became infected by the
The virus then evolved into human HIV. Instead, Hooper argues, the
CHAT polio vaccine brought the virus from chimpanzees to humans. Polio
vaccines back then were grown in the kidney cells of monkeys, though Hooper
believes CHAT was grown in the kidney cells of chimpanzees - not monkeys -
and became contaminated with a progenitor of human HIV.
There is some precedent: In the late 1950's and early 1960's a simian
virus was not dangerous was transmitted, inadvertently, to millions of
people through the polio vaccines. A soft-spoken, burly man who gets high
marks for his prodigious research, even by critics, Hooper - a former BBC
correspondent - says his theory serves as a cautionary tale as scientists
begin experiments in the area of xenotransplantation, or animal-to-human
Many scientists, though, are openly hostile to it, saying there simply
is no proof that polio vaccines caused the AIDS epidemic. They argue that
Hooper is instilling needless fear about vaccines in countries where polio
still is a threat, and that his speculation fuels conspiracy theories that
AIDS was deliberately manufactured by Westerners to kill Africans.
"I don't see how any good can come of this," said John Moore of the
Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. "Hooper just speculates that
this may be the case. You can say anything you want and then make the facts
Hooper insists his theory has merit, and he's asking Oleske to release
information about Patient No. 6 so "we might learn more about where and when
the initial introduction of HIV into North America actually occurred," he
writes in his book, "The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS"
(Little, Brown, $35).
The first documented cases of AIDS correlate in both time and place
with the testing of CHAT, an oral polio vaccine created by the Wistar
Institute in Philadelphia under the direction of Hilary Koprowski, one of
the leading polio vaccine researchers of the day.
Many of the earliest documented cases of AIDS in Africa occurred in
the towns where the vaccine was tested, or within 175 miles of those towns.
If hunters have been killing and eating chimpanzees for thousands of years,
Hooper asked, why has HIV taken hold only in recent decades?
In addition, he notes that patient No. 6 was first seen by doctors in
New Jersey not far from Clinton Farms. Oleske's paper on early AIDS,
published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, described the
child's mother as an IV drug user who was promiscuous. The mother also had
idiopathic thrombocytopenia, a blood-clotting deficiency that's a marker for
Hooper writes that Oleske told him that he met the mother of Patient
No. 6 again in 1991 or 1992. Hooper's theory is that people infected with
HIV from the polio vaccine developed a mild form of the disease that turned
deadly only when passed on to others. That, he said, explains why the mother
still would be alive as an adult if she was infected with HIV-contaminated
polio vaccine as a child.
Hooper, however, acknowledges he has no proof that either the child or
the mother is connected to Clinton Farms. Oleske, a specialist in pediatrics
and immunology, is one of the heroes of the AIDS war, particularly of the
early days when he fought to save children from a disease few understood and
many did not even know existed. He now runs the pediatric AIDS clinic at
UMDNJ in Newark.
Recently, he reviewed his files on the case, which he described in a
medical journal. He called the girl Patient No. 6 and has released no
information about her, except age and specifics of her disease. But Oleske
said he knows of no evidence linking the girl or her mother to the polio
vaccine or to Clinton Farms.
Oleske calls Hooper's speculation an elaborate and well-documented
hypothesis, but a hypothesis nonetheless. He said he examined a list of
names of Clinton babies given to him by Hooper and none of the last names
matched the name of the mother of Patient No. 6. Though skeptical about the
theory, Oleske has written to UMDNJ legal advisers to determine how to
proceed, and said he would consider turning over some information about the
case to objective scientists who would protect the confidentiality of the
"I think it would be important to know if a tragedy like this
happened," Oleske said. "It could be something we could learn from. But
right now the evidence does not support Hooper's theory." The Wistar
Institute has agreed to allow the remaining samples of the CHAT vaccine
believed used in the Congo 40 years ago to be tested by two important
sources, said Clayton Buck, professor and chief administrative officer at
Wistar. "(Hooper) has raised a legitimate question. These tests ought to be
done," said Buck, who said results should be available in the spring, but
that he expects the tests will be negative.
"There are flaws in this theory," Buck said. First, he said, the
scientists from Wistar deny ever using kidney cells from chimpanzees. But
Hooper claims he has evidence chimpanzees might have been used by vaccine
makers. He said chimpanzees were killed in a place called Camp Lindi, in the
heart of the Congo, and that the kidneys were shipped to Philadelphia and
Belgium. The CHAT vaccine was made in both places. Buck also said tests to
contaminate a vaccine with simian virus failed.
"HIV won't infect kidney cells," said Buck. Hooper argues kidney cells
could have contained remnants of blood or tissue, which could have contained
the virus. Buck, however, says all materials are washed away in the making
of the vaccine. Further more, he said, genetic dating suggests HIV has
existed in humans long before the polio trials of the 1950's.
Hooper said even if the samples of old polio vaccine turn up negative
for any HIV-related virus, his theory will not be entirely shot down, since
he does not believe that every single vial of vaccine was contaminated. And
if the mother of Patient No. 6 was not a Clinton baby, she might have shared
needles, or had sex, with someone who was a Clinton baby.
All these variables lead Oleske and other scientists to wonder if the
polio/AIDS hypothesis can ever be proved, or disproved, or whether this view
will linger like a Kennedy conspiracy theory. Tom Folks, director of the
retrovirology laboratory for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
said a 1974 or 1973 case of AIDS in New Jersey does not indicate a link to
"The virus was probably here then," he said. He said the HIV virus may
have been in a less deadly form in its early days, becoming "hotter" as it
traveled from human to human. Folks speculates that for hundreds, perhaps
thousands of years, simian viruses have been transmitted to humans. But
these were "dead-end viruses" that did not necessarily harm their human
host, and could not be transmitted from human to human. Folks suspects some
co-factor in recent times allowed the simian virus to adapt to humans and
then evolve. Koprowski, meanwhile, calls the theory a hoax. "(Hooper) builds
a theory on preconceptions and writes a big book," said Koprowski, now a
professor of microbiology and immunology at Thomas Jefferson University in
He insists, despite Hooper's circumstantial evidence, that chimpanzees
never were used to create the vaccine. "This book is pure invention," he
said. He said the Wistar vaccine was used to protect the babies at Clinton
Farms, where the prison director feared a polio outbreak. He said the
vaccine was not an experiment on the babies born there - as Hooper alleges -
and that he vaccinated himself before anyone else.
CHAT was not given to people after 1960, as the Salk and Sabin
vaccines came into use around the world. In his book, Hooper chides Oleske
for not returning follow-up phone calls after their initial interview. He
wanted more information about Patient No. 6. Oleske said he does not want to
stand in the way of science, and he's willing to entertain questions about
Hooper's theory - to a point.
"But do I have an obligation to track this case down? There are
ethical considerations," he said. "And I have children to take care of."
Note: James Oleske, MD has treated approximately 60 autistic children
and all but one or two have been shown to have elevated rubella titers and
other autoimmune indicators. Eric Gallup was the first patient to see Dr.
Oleske and was treated for these indicators with the intravenous gamma
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