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Cell biologist Klaudia Brix of Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, has resigned from the board of the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology (IJAE) following the publication of a paper by the infamous Peter Duesberg of the University of California, Berkeley, who has been a longtime opponent of the idea that HIV causes AIDS. Another member of the 13-member board, Hanne Mikkelsen of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, is also considering resigning, Nature reported.
A different version of the Duesberg paper was originally published in Elsevier’s journal Medical Hypotheses in 2009. At the time, Medical Hypotheses did not use peer review, and articles were simply selected by the editorial board. Following the publication of the Duesberg paper, however, AIDS researchers complained to the publisher that the paper could have negative implications for global healthcare, and Elsevier instituted a peer-review policy and withdrew the paper.
The new IJAE paper was peer reviewed, but was apparently only read by two reviews, including the journal's editor-in-chief, Paolo Romagnoli from the University of Florence, Italy. “Only one [external] reviewer in my mind is not enough for manuscripts of a sensitive nature,” board member Laurentiu Popescu of the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, who is not resigning, told Nature. The paper challenges the assertion of an HIV-AIDS epidemic in South Africa and the effectiveness of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.