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Finding aid of the Alan Cantwell Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Alan Cantwell papers
    Dates: 1957-2008
    Collection number: Coll2009-008
    Creator: Cantwell, Alan, 1934-
    Collection Size: 2 records boxes + 3 archive cartons + 1 archive half-carton (4.0 linear feet).
    Repository: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.
    Los Angeles, California 90007
    Abstract: Correspondence, articles, books, clippings, ephemera and audiovisual materials collected and created by Alan Cantwell during the course of his research relating to the theory that the AIDS epidemic is a man-made creation, its link to cancer bacteria, and the Hepatitis B experiments conducted on gay men from 1978-1981. The materials also discuss biological warfare, radiation, genocidal issues, and HIV. Included are a number of articles and books written by Cantwell as well as research material he used for his body of work. The authors of the research material include Robert Gallo, Virginia Livingston and Robert Strecker.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    The collection is open to researchers with exception of folder 1:49, which is confidential.

    Publication Rights

    Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).

    Preferred Citation

    Alan Cantwell papers, Coll2009-008, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Alan Cantwell, M.D., February 20, 2009.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Mor Fleisher-Leach, August 31, 2009.


    Alan Cantwell was born in the Bronx, New York City, on January 4, 1934. His father was an orthopedic surgeon and his mother a nurse. He attended Cornell University and graduated in 1955, followed by medical school at New York Medical College. After graduating in 1959, he served an internship at Mercy Hospital in San Diego, CA.
    Cantwell was inducted into the Army in September 1960 and served as a Captain in the Medical Corps until his discharge in 1962. Immediately afterward he started a dermatology residency at the Long Beach Veteran's Hospital in Long Beach, CA. Upon completion of the residency in 1965, Cantwell joined the Dermatology department of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group at the Kaiser Hospital in Hollywood, CA, where he remained his entire medical career. He retired from the hospital in 1994 at the age of 60.
    During his dermatology training Cantwell discovered and later reported on tuberculosis-like bacteria in scleroderma, a disease of unknown etiology. Soon thereafter, he learned of the prior scleroderma research of Virginia Livingston, M.D., who practiced in San Diego. She first discovered "acid-fast TB-like bacteria" in scleroderma in 1974, and went on to discover similar bacteria in various forms of cancer. Livingston and her colleagues Eleanor Alexander-Jackson, Irene Diller and Florence Seibert became Cantwell's mentors during his many years of investigation into unrecognized bacteria in lupus, various forms of cancer, and AIDS. This "cancer microbe" research is considered highly controversial, and is generally ignored by the mainstream medical community.
    In the summer of 1986, Livingston invited Cantwell to her home to meet Robert Strecker, M.D., a Los Angeles internist who claimed that the AIDS epidemic was man-made. Initially Cantwell was skeptical of his claims that the origin of the so-called "gay-disease" resulted from contaminated vaccines stemming from the hepatitis B experiments, which used gay men as research subjects in various U.S. cities during the years 1978-1981. Strecker achieved notoriety with his controversial video The Strecker Memorandum (1988), currently available on youtube.com.
    Very early in the AIDS epidemic, when the causative agent (HIV) was unknown, Cantwell reported on acid-fast bacteria in "classic" pre-AIDS cases of Kaposi's sarcoma. Later Cantwell showed similar bacteria in the AIDS-related KS lesions of AIDS, as well as in AIDS-damaged tissue at autopsy. Thus, from the very beginning of the epidemic, it was Cantwell's belief that AIDS was a disease closely allied to cancer. None of this published research was accepted, and by 1984 HIV was discovered and declared the sole cause of AIDS.
    In 1983 Cantwell wrote the first book by a physician on the subject of the AIDS epidemic. Unable to find an interested publisher, he established Aries Rising Press, and published AIDS: The Mystery And The Solution himself. The theme of the book was that "cancer bacteria" were heavily implicated in the new and mysterious disease. The book was published in April, 1984, the same month that the public was informed that AIDS was caused by HIV, a new and novel virus discovered by Robert Gallo, M.D., at the National Cancer Institute.
    Because of his personal AIDS scientific research, Cantwell took an avid interest in determining if there was scientific evidence to support Strecker's claim. After months of research, he became convinced that Strecker's claim that AIDS was a man-made disease had merit. This research took Cantwell into dark areas of science, such as biological warfare, human radiation experimentation by the US government, genocidal issues, and ultimately into various aspects of conspiracy theories and questionable media manipulation surrounding the origin of AIDS.
    In 1988, Cantwell published AIDS And The Doctors of Death: An Inquiry Into the Origin of the AIDS Epidemic , his first book detailing the theory of the man-made origins of the AIDS epidemic. In 1993, he published additional evidence in Queer Blood: The Secret AIDS Genocide Plot. These books delve deeply in the cancer research of Livingston, Alexander-Jackson, Diller, Seibert, and dozens of other cancer microbe researchers dating back to the nineteenth century.
    Although the scientific community expresses minimal or no interest in the bacteriology of cancer and the man-made origin of AIDS, Cantwell's work has drawn the interest of editors of alternative health and conspiracy theory periodicals, and he has written for magazines such as New Dawn (out of Australia), Paranoia Magazine, Nexus, The New African, and others. Various personal articles can be found online, particularly on the controversial rense.com, and various scientific articles can be found on the website of the Journal of Independent Medicalk Research (joimr.org).
    Cantwell's research on the man-made origins of AIDS research has inspired two fictional plays: Mixed Blood (1990), by Aubrey Hampton; and The Man Who Created AIDS (1992), by Christian Anders.
    Cantwell has lived in the Hollywood area since 1962. He met his life partner, Frank A. Sinatra, in 1974. On October 19, 2008, the two were married in West Hollywood.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Alan Cantwell Papers are comprised of materials received, created and collected by Alan Cantwell concerning the theory that the AIDS epidemic is a man-made creation targeted at homosexual males. The bulk of this collection is composed of original and photocopied articles as well as books; and there is one small box of audiovisual materials. Materials created by Cantwell include articles, books written and published by Cantwell on Aries Rising Press-his own publishing company-and one DVD of lectures given at the 2006 Autoimmunity Conference in Los Angeles. Materials by others that relate to Cantwell's work include articles, books and audiovisual materials about: the origin of AIDS; animal experimentation; biological warfare; bacteria; cancer; HIV; Kaposi's sarcoma; Hepatitis B experimentations conducted on homosexual males starting in 1978 and their aftermath; gay rights; tuberculosis; vaccination; the medical community; and radiation. Authors of these materials include Robert Gallo, Robert Biggar, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Virginia Livingston, and Robert Strecker. The collection contains four Virus Cancer Annual Reports from 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1977 that Cantwell studied extensively while conducting his research. The collection also includes ephemera, publications, and audiovisual materials relating to two plays-- Mixed Blood (1990) and The Man Who Created AIDS (1992)--inspired by Cantwell's research.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    AIDS (Disease)--Epidemiology
    AIDS (Disease)--Etiology
    AIDS (Disease)--Popular works