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“Dr. Peterson, you're familiar with Koch's Postulate Number One, the one that says that you must be able to find the thing you think causes an infectious disease in every case of that disease?”
“Yes, I am, but...”
Messick cuts him off immediately. He wants very specific answers from this hostile witness and nothing else.
“If you would, doctor, please just answer my questions as simply as you can, and not offer any other comments. During the decade from 1987 to 1997, you had a thriving medical practice in San Francisco, is that correct?”
“Yes, it is.”
“And did you have the opportunity in your practice to examine patients diagnosed with AIDS?”
“Yes, I did.”
“About how many?”
“Oh, several thousand, probably.”
“In fact, you were well known at the time for your diagnosis and treatment of AIDS patients, were you not?”
“Yes, I was,” Peterson answered proudly.
“Dr. Peterson, did you look for the virus we now call HIV in all of these AIDS cases that came before you?”
“Well, sort of...” Peterson looks at the Judge, as if begging to continue. Messick doesn’t let him.
“And in how many cases did you find the virus we call HIV?”
“I'm trying to tell you that we don't actually look for the HIV...”
Messick addresses Judge Watts directly. “Your Honor, as you know, most of the witnesses I will be calling to present my case have been subpoenaed, rather than volunteering to testify for the plaintiffs. Mr. Crawley was right in his opening statement that many of them are witnesses he might have called, thinking they would support his own case. Until Dr. Peterson, it has not been necessary to treat them as hostile witnesses, and I hope I do not have to request this very many times. However, I would ask you to instruct this witness to simply answer my questions with a Yes or No, if possible...”
Judge Watts nods her assent. “Dr. Peterson, please refrain from adding your own comments and simply answer Mr. Messick's questions.”
“But Your Honor, his questions...”
Judge Watts doesn’t like anyone talking back to her, especially a witness. “I don't care, Dr. Peterson. Just answer the questions as best as you can without elaboration.”
Peterson sees that he’s going nowhere with the Judge. “Yes, Your Honor.”
“Okay, Dr. Peterson, let's try this again. In how many of the thousands of cases of AIDS that you’ve seen have you found the virus we are calling HIV?”
Peterson shakes his head in disbelief that he has to answer this without explaining.
There was enough of a reaction in the courtroom that Judge Watts had to use her gavel to bring silence. Messick was going to play this for all it was worth.
“Did you say ‘none’? Zero?” Messick appears to be taken aback by the answer.
Peterson looks at the Judge again, hoping she would let him say more. But she just gave him a stern look of warning.
“In not one case have you found the virus called HIV?”
Crawley finally jumps to his feet. “Objection. Asked and answered.”
Judge Watts, who appears to be somewhat surprised at Peterson’s answers as well, is required to agree with Crawley. “Sustained. Move on, Mr. Messick.”
That’s okay. I got my point across. “But, Dr. Peterson, doesn't Koch's Postulate Number One say that in order for the virus we call HIV to cause AIDS, that virus has to be found in every case of the disease?”
Messick is not interested in the ‘but.’
“Dr. Peterson…” and he waits for Peterson to stop looking for help from Judge Watts and turn back around. “So not only have you not found HIV in every case of AIDS that you have studied, as required by Koch’s Postulate Number One, but you have never found it in even one case?”
“Objection again, Your Honor. Asked and answered.” Crawley doesn’t bother to stand up.
“Sustained. Don't do it again, Mr. Messick.”
Messick goes to his table and picks up a stack of papers from his desk.
“Dr. Peterson, it obviously has not been your experience, but did you know that there is a very small percentage of AIDS cases where the active virus called HIV has, in fact, been found and isolated? Your Honor, plaintiffs' exhibit #41.” Messick hands the papers to the Judge.
“Yes, I know. I've been trying to tell you...”
The Judge shoots Dr. Peterson a stern look to shut him up and then continues scanning the exhibit. Messick waits until Judge Watts finishes looking at the exhibit and hands it to Crawley before he asks his next question.
“But, Dr. Peterson, Koch’s Postulate Number One doesn’t talk about finding the cause in a very small percentage of cases, does it? It says in every case. And since the virus called HIV itself has not been found in every case of AIDS, in your opinion, does that mean that claiming the virus called HIV is the agent that causes AIDS violates Koch's Postulate Number One?”
Messick has to interrupt once again, because he wants to change course slightly. “Dr. Peterson, just out of curiosity, what do you find when you examine the blood of an AIDS victim?”
Dr. Peterson looks so relieved to finally be able to tell his side of the story.
“It's what I've been trying to tell you, Mr. Messick. What we test for are HIV antibodies. We find the antibodies to HIV.”
“The antibodies? Not the virus itself, but the antibodies?”
“Yes, and we assume that if the antibodies are there, then the virus was also there.”
“You assume, Dr. Peterson? You assume? Isn’t it incumbent on a scientist – a medical doctor of your stature – isn’t it incumbent on you not to assume anything, but to prove it? I mean, would you tell a patient that you assume they have terminal cancer without proving it first?”
Peterson doesn’t know how to answer that. It was a question like: When did you stop beating your wife?
“And you said you assumed the HIV was there. Does that mean that when you test and find HIV antibodies, the virus itself ’t there any more?”
“I’m not an expert in antibody theory, Mr. Messick.”
“Fine, I’ll ask someone else that question.” Messick takes the opportunity to glance at the jury, then decides it’s time to hit his homerun.
“Dr. Peterson, I want to make sure I’m following you in all this. Koch’s Postulate Number One requires you to prove that HIV is present in every case of the disease….” That wasn’t really a question, so Messick doesn’t want or wait for an answer. “But isn't it true, Dr. Peterson, that you – that the entire medical community – do not test for the virus called HIV at all, but instead test only to see whether the patient has the antibodies to HIV?”
“Yes! That's what I've been trying to say!”
“So when an announcement is made that ‘so many people’ have been found infected with HIV, the truth is that ‘so many people’ have tested positive for the HIV antibodies, and not for the virus called HIV itself?”
“Yes. Now you get it.”
“In fact, when an announcement is made that ‘so many people’ have been found infected with HIV, isn’t it true that hardly anyone has been found with the actual HIV itself?”
“Objection.” Crawley’s on his feet.
“Withdrawn.” Messick pauses. “But, Dr. Peterson, as I understand it, Koch’s Postulate Number One talks about finding the actual virus in every case of the disease, and doesn’t say anything about finding the antibody to the virus in every case of the disease. Correct?”
“Then let me ask you this. In those ten years, did you at least find the antibodies to HIV in every case of AIDS that you saw?”
“In every case?”
“Yes, in every case.”
Messick shows his feigned surprise to the jury. “No?”
“Why not, Dr. Peterson?”
“We didn’t test every patient for HIV.”
“You didn’t test all your AIDS patients for the antibodies to the virus you thought caused their disease? Is that what you’re saying?”
“So I guess you must have once again assumed someone had this fatal disease and not bothered to try to prove it?”
Peterson just sits there, wishing he had gotten a lawyer to fight this subpoena - anything to escape this embarrassment and humiliation.
“Dr. Peterson, are you still there? Are you going to answer my question?”
“What’s the question, Mr. Messick?”
“The question is: are you saying that you diagnosed your patients with the deadly disease called AIDS without testing to see if they had the virus that supposedly caused it?”
“But we weren’t required to test every patient for HIV, Mr. Messick, in order to diagnose them with AIDS. The symptoms alone were sufficient.”
“How many of your thousands of AIDS cases did you actually test for the HIV antibodies before you told them they were going to die, Dr. Peterson?”
“Sustained. Re-phrase, Mr. Messick.”
Messick cooled himself down a bit. He could get very passionate about this fairly easily. “Dr. Peterson, how many of your thousands of AIDS cases did you actually test for the HIV antibodies?”
“I can’t answer that for sure, Mr. Messick.”
Admit it, you son of a bitch: You guessed at a diagnosis. Well, then, you shouldn’t have any trouble with this question. “Take a guess, Dr. Peterson.”
“Do you want a number?”
“How about just a percentage – your best guess at a percentage.”
Peterson thinks for a minute. “I’d say, maybe 50%.”
“Well, maybe a little less than half.”
“So with more than half your patients, you simply assumed they had this fatal disease without finding out if they had the cause in their bodies, correct?”
“Yes, Mr. Messick, that’s correct. As I said, having the symptoms of AIDS was enough to make the diagnosis.”
Messick looks at his notes to make sure he’s covered everything. “Dr. Peterson, you said you were not an expert witness in antibody theory?”
“No, I’m not.”
“Then Dr. Peterson, I'll save those questions for someone who is. And I will end your questions here. But let me see if I have this straight. Correct me if I'm wrong...” Messick leans on the jury rail with one hand and looks down the two rows of jurors, trying to make eye contact with each one. “You and all other AIDS specialists don’t test all your patients for HIV before diagnosing them with AIDS, and when you do test them, you almost never find the virus called HIV in any case of AIDS, as Koch's Postulate Number One requires, but you find the HIV antibodies instead...”
Crawley is on his feet again, but the Judge beats him to it.
“Mr. Messick, I warned you.”
“I know Your Honor, asked and answered. No further questions of this witness.”
* * *
“...it simply means that the body has successfully defended itself against a foreign invader and is prepared even better for any future attacks by that same invader.”
Messick has called Dr. William Knowles to the stand, who has been accepted as an expert witness in antibody theory.
“In other words, Dr. Knowles, the body has won. The attacker is defeated and destroyed.”
Knowles nods at the same time he says, “Correct. If an antibody is present, the disease agent itself will not be present.”
“The causal agent is no longer causing damage.”
Knowles nods again. “Correct.”
“Dr. Knowles, did you hear Dr. Peterson just testify that he personally has never found a trace of the virus called HIV in any of the AIDS cases he has studied, but instead has found the antibodies to HIV?”
“Yes, I heard that.”
“What does this mean to you?”
“It means that the body, at some time, had successfully neutralized the HIV and developed antibodies against it. That's all.”
It’s nice to have a witness who’s not so hostile on the stand. Messick seems to be enjoying this.
“So to have the antibodies to the virus called HIV, that virus had to have been defeated, since you can't find any trace of the virus itself.”
“Dr. Knowles, if an invader has been defeated and antibodies are present, will the patient still be sick and dying, or are they well, or at least recovering nicely?”
“For the immune system to have gotten as far as producing antibodies, they will be recovering, or have recovered.”
“So it is highly unusual to find antibodies to HIV, such as we find in AIDS victims, and have those people dying right and left?”
“Well, let me put it this way…people die from a disease – virtually any disease – when their immune systems have not been able to protect them from an invader. Either their T4 cells didn’t work properly to kick in the immune response, or the Killer T cells couldn’t kill the organism, and they never got to the point of producing antibodies for the future. So to find HIV antibodies in a patient can only mean that they were produced prior to the person getting sick with AIDS, which means that the HIV itself could not be the cause of AIDS.”
There’s a stir in the courtroom in reaction to the first real hard piece of evidence and logic challenging the role of HIV in AIDS. It’s not enough of a stir to cause Judge Watts to raise her gavel, and Messick waits a minute to let it sink in and have its full effect on the jury.
“Dr. Knowles, let’s go back through what you just said and pick it apart, please. Tell us again…if you have developed antibodies against an invader, what does that say about your immune system?”
“It says that the immune system has to be working properly – that the patient’s T4, or ‘Helper’ cells were of sufficient numbers and efficacy that they kicked in the immune response and activated the Killer T cells, which were themselves successful in taking care of the invader. Only then are the antibodies produced to establish resistance to the next time that same invader might appear. If it happened any other way, or in any other order, the body would be wasting its time and energy and efforts to produce antibodies before it even knew it could survive the current attack. And the body doesn’t work that way. It’s the most efficient machine ever built.”
Messick wants somehow to find a way to repeat all this three times so he is certain the jury gets it, without Crawley lodging his “asked-and-answered” objection.
“Let me see if I can understand, Dr. Knowles… Something attacks the human body. If the immune system is working correctly, some of those Helper T cells we learned about are going to activate the body's defense system and send out the Killer T cells to destroy the invader. If the Killer T cells are successful, the body is then going to create antibodies to this invader to help in any future attack. But all this depends on a well-functioning immune system, and it has to happen in that order. Have I got that right?”
“Yes, that's right.”
Wow, I made it through and Crawley never moved! Let’s see if I can do it again.
“And in the case of HIV, if the body has gone through this process to the point where it has developed the antibodies to the virus called HIV, then the immune system has to be working at least relatively well.”
“But I thought, Dr. Knowles, that AIDS was an immune deficiency disease – a disease where the immune system was not working well at all? How could a very sick immune system create antibodies for a virus called HIV that was supposedly destroying it? Can you explain the logic in that?”
“No, I can’t.”
“Wouldn’t it make more logical sense, doctor, that the body may have encountered this virus called HIV some other time in the past – not associated in any way with AIDS – killed off the active HIV, recovered nicely, and then developed these antibodies that we later find?”
“That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me.”
“But, Dr. Knowles, that would mean that the virus we are calling HIV couldn’t have anything to do with causing AIDS!”
“That’s correct. It couldn’t.”
Messick can see the shock on the faces of most of the jury. Some were still acting like this point wasn’t that important. They must not have understood as well as I thought. That’s okay. I’ll get them later, Messick assures himself. There’s a lot more of this trial yet to come.
“One last question, Dr. Knowles. Does it say anywhere in Koch's Postulate Number One that it's acceptable to find the antibodies of the agent suspected of causing the disease and not the agent itself?”
“No, it doesn't.”
“Thank you, Doctor Knowles.”
Messick looks at Crawley, who doesn’t move or return his gaze. Instead Crawley turns to the row of seats behind him to confer with an associate.
Sarah feels that same nausea overcoming her, like yesterday. She wonders what she ate, or maybe didn’t eat that she should have. She whispers, “Excuse me,” as she walks in front of each person down the row and out the door to the ladies’ room.
|Smashwords Edition Pamela Joan Barlow Smashwords Edition, License Notes This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may||Smashwords Edition License Notes|
|Smashwords Edition, License Notes||Smashwords Edition, License Notes|
|Smashwords Edition, License Notes||Smashwords Edition, License Notes|
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