HIV deniers 'a joke'

A PERTH-BASED group of HIV sceptics that has told an Adelaide court the virus does not exist have been described as "radical, even among AIDS denialists" by a New York-based researcher.

John Moore of Cornell Medical School said the Perth Group of medics was "semi-professional" and dangerous to public health.

"They are considered to be among the more radical of AIDS denialists because they don't even believe HIV exists," Professor Moore said.

The Perth Group, led by medical physicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos has for more than three weeks given "expert" testimony claiming HIV has never been isolated in the laboratory and is not sexually transmitted.

The claims came in the appeal of Andre Chad Parenzee, 36, who is attempting to get a retrial on charges of endangering the lives of three former girlfriends by having sex with them knowing he was HIV-positive.

The case continues today in the South Australian Court of Criminal Appeal before judge John Sulan.

The case has attracted a star-studded line-up of prosecution experts from leading Australian universities and teaching hospitals, including renowned immunologist and former Australian of the Year Gustav Nossal.

Professor Moore's comments are part of his pursuit of AIDS denialists, on the internet and with opinion pieces in The New York Times and a letter to Harper's Magazine.

He said the Perth Group were "not in the mainstream of AIDS denialism", and were considered a "joke" by HIV and AIDS researchers.

Professor Moore, who has written and co-written more than 200 peer-reviewed articles on HIV and AIDS, said: "They are not experts except in their own minds. They have never worked on HIV, with HIV patients, or studied it first-hand. It is the equivalent of me saying I'm an expert in astrophysics because I've read some books on it."

The Parenzee prosecution has objected to the court giving the Perth Group "expert" status.

Justice Sulan has deferred the objection until after the defence and prosecution testimony is heard.

Perth Group member Val Turner said on Friday he was walking in the footsteps of scientific mavericks such as Galileo, who was imprisoned by the Catholic Church for his espousal of the sun-centred solar system. Professor Moore said this was "bullshit".

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