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HIV sceptics' claims out of date, court told

THE former head of HIV research funding in Australia says the case of a man appealing his conviction for exposing women to HIV was out of date.

Flinders University Emeritus Professor Peter McDonald chaired the Commonwealth AIDS Research Grants Committee, the national body that directed research funding for HIV and AIDS, from 1989 to 2002.

He told the South Australian Supreme Court that the defence witnesses had attacked HIV science from the mid-1980s, ignoring the vast advances achieved since.

“I have sat in this court for many days and I sort of wonder if the world began and ended in 1983 and 1984,’’ said Professor McDonald.

The application for appeal by Andre Chad Parenzee, 36, against his conviction on three counts of endangering life has gone for more than three weeks.

In earlier hearings witnesses for Parnenzee, medical physicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos and emergency doctor Val Turner, critiqued the foundational scientific work of HIV and claimed that it was a figment of early laboratory procedures and so did not exist.

But Professor McDonald said the early work had pointed the way towards more advanced research into the virus and fruitful treatments for AIDS, although there was still much to learn about the mechanism of how HIV leads to AIDS.

“There were some important observations made then and they were seminal but there been there has been a huge amount of development since that time.’’

“We should acknowledge the seminal observations of (Luc) Montagnier and (Robert) Gallo but they certainly have been superseded by the work of many hundreds, if not thousands, of others.’’

Professor McDonald was the final witness in the hearings. The application was adjourned until late February.

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