At an April 1984 press conference, government researchers announced that the cause of AIDS--the disease then terrifying the nation as if it were a Biblical scourge--was a "retrovirus" called HIV.
Many scientists, including two Nobel winners, said it wasn't possible. But they were quickly drowned out by the ecstatic response from activists, government-funded researchers, a relieved public and, especially, the pharmaceutical industry, which quickly offered a treatment for HIV--a drug called called AZT. Within four years, the entire first group of AZT test subjects was dead.
But the idea that HIV caused AIDS became so entrenched that international policy was being based on it, while big pharma raked in billions. Scientists who disagreed found themselves ostracized, their funding cut off. Journalist who raised questions were subject to vicious attacks from politicians and activists.
Celia Farber has covered the tumultuous story in all its facets for over 20 years, including: disastrous National Institutes of Health drug tests on mothers and children in Africa, Tennessee and New York City; extensive interviews with blacklisted researchers and scientific dissidents such as Berkeley's Peter Duseberg and NIH renegade Jonathan Fishbein; and reporting from South Africa on the influence of pharmaceutical companies on foreign aid and policy.
It is an astonishing and largely unknown story, and in Serious Adverse Events, Farber chronicles the entire history of AIDS, its triumphs and its failures, with astonishing research and mind-opening candor.