In particular I am interested with one specific claim made by Jody Wells Memorial Prize.

Is his claim true and reasonable? I'll explain what I mean by reasonable latter.

The organisers of the Jody Wells Memorial Prize say it hasn't:

The rules for isolation of a retrovirus were thoroughly discussed at the Pasteur Institute, Paris, in 1973, and are the logical minimum requirements for establishing the independent existence of HIV. They are:

  1. Culture of putatively infected tissue.

  2. Purification of specimens by density gradient ultracentrifugation.

  3. Electron micrographs of particles exhibiting the morphological characteristics and dimensions (100-120 nm) of retroviral particles at the sucrose (or percoll) density of 1.16 gm/ml and containing nothing else, not even particles of other morphologies or dimensions.

  4. Proof that the particles contain reverse transcriptase.

  5. Analysis of the particles' proteins and RNA and proof that these are unique.

  6. Proof that 1-5 are a property only of putatively infected tissues and can not be induced in control cultures. These are identical cultures, that is, tissues obtained from matched, unhealthy subjects and cultured under identical conditions differing only in that they are not putatively infected with a retrovirus.

  7. Proof that the particles are infectious, that is when PURE particles are introduced into an uninfected culture or animal, the identical particle is obtained as shown by repeating steps 1-5.

I want to know if the article is misleading, etc.

  1. Was the HIV virus isolated?
  2. Are the 7 rules cited in the competition reasonable? Can scientists do these for other viruses? Or have the authors just created an arbitrarily impossible step to make a point?

For example, say humans can isolate most virus but not HIV, then the claim is reasonable. However, if the 7 rules is equivalent of finding actual photograph of HIV virus hugging Elvis, which is not doable for all other virus or not, then the rules are not reasonable.

While I really want to know whether HIV causes AIDS or not, I am not asking this. I am asking for one of their subclaims that is much easier to verify or check.

To make this clear:

I should clarify that. In this question I am asking a specific claim. The website requires 7 rules to satisfy him that he claimed not to have been full filled. I want to know whether the claim is true and reasonable.

  • This is related to, but not an exact duplicate of my old question about Koch's postulates and HIV: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/269/…
    – Mad Scientist
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 6:35
  • 1
    If you really want to know if HIV causes AIDS, why not look at the existing question asking exactly that.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 6:54
  • 1
    I don't see that standards from 1973 are too relevant these days. They can sequence the virus, it doesn't matter if it's isolated or not. Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 3:14
  • 1
    One more thought here--step #7 is impossible to test ethically as HIV doesn't infect animals in the first place. Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 21:26
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    @LorenPechtel: And "£ 1000 Reward" is a ridiculously low grant for this. The other pages on that site that e.g. claim that "gay lifestyle" is the real cause one tests positive are somewhat obvious bigotry. Commented Jan 18, 2021 at 13:53

3 Answers 3


This article mentions that

HIV-1 transmission in humans results most commonly from virus exposure at mucosal surfaces (1). For practical reasons, it has been impossible to identify and characterize by direct analytical methods HIV-1 at or near the moment of transmission, yet it is this virus that antibody or cell-based vaccines must interdict.

Which would seem to imply that the strict rules shown in the question have not been satisfied.

However in this paper the methods section contains subsections on:

  1. Virus and cell culture
  2. Endogenous RT assay (Reverse Transcriptase)
  3. Sucrose gradient analysis
  4. Electron microscopy

Which seems to satisfy the majority of the requirements. They don't show re-infection of a human host with the cultured virus particles, but that would hardly be ethical to carry out! (And might not happen even if you did, due to the virus being grown in vitro for several generations, the virus might have lost the ability to infect in vivo.)


There's actually a paper published only one year after the other answer "Catching HIV ‘in the act’ with 3D electron microscopy", which I think satisfies some of the imaging requirements.

enter image description here

Of course the infection is demonstrated in a isolated cell

enter image description here

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The question is really a restatement of Koch's postulates - which is a way of proving that a particular agent causes a disease.


These are steps 1,2,6,7 in the question, and it is reasonable to ask if these steps have been done.

The last step is done frequently by infecting T lymphocytes (e.g Jurkat cells) in the lab. No human needs to be infected, just the cells in culture.

for example paper doing this at


good search terms are:

culture Jurkat HIV

  • Please include content from the links in your answer so visitors don't have to follow links to understand your answer.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 15:40

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