Dr. Horowitz works closely with some Web-based vendors of Holistic Health remedies of various kinds, occasionally setting up their websites for them. In the immediate wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak, he and some associates promoted what they claimed was "effective treatment" for the disease, a spectrum of naturopathic products all using the name "Urbani"; Dr. Carlo Urbani, then recently deceased of SARS, had first reported the disease to the World Health Organization (WHO). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Fair Trade Commission (FTC) warned Dr. Horowitz about the products' clear regulatory infringements, but it appears he has never permanently stopped marketing the claimed SARS remedies. As an apparent adjunct to his other health-related businesses, Dr. Horowitz has also attempted to operate a spa in Hawaii, called Steam Vent Inn It has apparently been shut down by the County of Hawai'i Planning Department since 2006.
Dr. Horowitz's theories about viruses and about the dangers of vaccination have been well-received in some quarters. On several websites besides Dr. Horowitz's own, Bo Gritz is quoted suggesting that he deserves a Nobel Prize. The Nation of Islam cautioned African-American parents about vaccination of their children, and Dr. Horowitz seems to have had significant influence on their decision to make this announcement. On May 28th, 2008, Senator Barack Obama's former pastor at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, mentioned Dr. Horowitz's Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola in defense of a statement Wright had made during a sermon: that the U.S. Government "lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." Many might term Horowitz's conclusions conspiracy theories, and it appears that Dr. Horowitz himself would be among them, since he was a speaker at Conspiracy Con in 2001, 2004 and 2007.
Beginning in the early nineties, AIDS hygiene in dentistry and addressing patient fears about AIDS risks in the dental office became dominant themes in self-published titles, as well as in his peer-reviewed work.. These subjects became topical in the early 90s with the controversial case of Kimberly Bergalis. Bergalis and five other patients were widely reported to have contracted HIV from their HIV-infected dentist, David J. Acer. Initial inquiries concluded that the patients all had the same strain of HIV, and that Dr. Acer was the most likely source of infection.
Starting from some time in the early-to-mid 1990s, Dr. Horowitz's opinions and thinking began to consistently fall well outside the mainstream of medical thought, though perhaps some such tendency was prefigured in one of his publications over a decade earlier, "In Defense of Holistic Health. His personal investigation of Dr. Acer's case appears to be the starting point for his career as an author of books and other media concerned with medical conspiracies, since it concluded not only that Dr. Acer had acted with murderous intent, but also that the U.S. government had covered up evidence that HIV had been engineered. At the International AIDS Conference in Vancouver in 1996, the abstract for a presentation in which Horowitz is named as lead-investigator says that "the genocidal theory of AIDS could not be ruled out. In 1999, Da Vid, one of Dr. Horowitz's collaborators on the research presented at the Vancouver AIDS conference, said of his AIDS conspiracy theories that he was "giving too much credit to these people being so well organized ... I told him directly I thought he'd gone off the deep end.
In 1994, Dr. Horowitz published some papers on the case of David J. Acer, a Florida dentist who, according to U.S. federal and Florida state health agencies, had somehow infected six of his patients with HIV. With the publication of his book on the theory that Acer was actually murdering his patients, Deadly Innocence: Solving the Greatest Murder Mystery in the History of American Medicine, Dr. Horowitz came to the attention of some in the press. Dr. Horowitz was not alone in concluding that Acer had acted with murderous intent; reporters were quoting reputable sources making remarks like "It was murder ... simply because we've eliminated everything else," and "Whether it's scientifically valid or not, it is definitely the most prevalent theory today—at least in the dental community. The case evoked great public and professional concern, as it seemed to be the first known instance not only of dentist-to-patient HIV transmission, but of such transmission from any class of health provider, and because of the number of apparent HIV transmissions from a single practitioner.
Earlier investigations had concluded that Dr. Acer's patients had probably been infected by procedural errors on Acer's part. However, the precise route of transmission was never identified, and numerous possible errors in CDC analysis and discrepancies in some infected patients' accounts emerged under investigation. Public attention to the review of the case peaked around the time of a June 1994 60 Minutes segment devoted to the issues. It was no longer considered intolerably unreasonable to suggest that Dr. Acer's HIV-infected patients had simply lied about sexual activities or injection drug use, or that the CDC's analysis of HIV viral-strain similarity might have been flawed. However, months before the 60 Minutes segment, on April 2nd, 1994, Dr. Horowitz had already been noted as offering a competing theory: given how unlikely accidental dentist-to-patient transmission appeared to be, only practitioner intent could explain the cluster of transmissions. In short, Dr. Horowitz's position was that Acer had killed Bergalis and other patients of his, by knowingly infecting them with HIV, motivated largely by a political agenda.
What distinguishes Dr. Horowitz's allegations from those of others commenting on the case during the 1994 controversy is that they were not limited to imputation of nefarious intent on Dr. Acer's part, but also implicated U.S. government agencies, both state and federal, in a coverup. What he wrote in Deadly Innocence prefigured his later writings in support of AIDS conspiracy theories. According to Dr. Horowitz,
"The [CDC] and Florida health officials had covered up almost all of the incriminating evidence linking Dr. Acer to thirty six serial killers studied by the FBI ... I was forced to conclude the authorities covered up the evidence implicating Dr. Acer to prevent the media, and subsequently the public, from probing into his background. The legal testimony in the case indicated he believed he was dying of a virus that the government had created. Dr. Acer, his best friend testified, believed that the virus had been unleashed for genocide against America's gay community and Third World Blacks.
However, Edward Parsons, the "best friend" Dr. Horowitz cites above, in his actual testimony under oath, is reported to have said "only that Acer was angry about his AIDS infection, and he specifically said that Acer did not tell him that he was going to intentionally infect patients. Elsewhere, Parsons is quoted saying Dr. Acer mentioned hemophiliacs, drug addicts and gay men, among the categories that he said Dr. Acer felt were so marginal that the government wouldn't act concertedly on AIDS. However, Parsons mentions no racial, ethnic or national category, and nowhere is Parsons quoted to the efffect that Dr. Acer had said the virus was created by the U.S. government, accidentally or intentionally, or that it had been intentionally released for any purpose by any government.
In 1996, Dr. Horowitz published Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola -- Nature, Accident or Intentional? . Its publication resulted in invitations to speak on a community cable channel, and as the keynote speaker at an epidemic diseases seminar, but otherwise seems to have gone mostly unnoticed at the time. It has attracted negligible attention from mainstream book reviewers since first publication, possibly because it is a self-published title containing conspiracy theories. However, as of May 2008, Emerging Viruses had come to be ranked above Richard Preston's The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story and Laurie Garrett's The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance in the Amazon categories of "Infectious Disease" and "Communicable Diseases". It also had an overall Amazon sales rank above that of either book. The Hot Zone and The Coming Plague, which have been in print for about the same length of time, enjoyed the support of mainstream publishers and mainstream reviewers; Emerging Viruses did not. The adherents of conspiracy theories are noted for interpreting negligence of a theory by the mainstream press as supportive evidence for the theory; the relative sales performance of Emerging Viruses is perhaps a rough indicator of this predisposition.
The book's theories about vaccine contamination were approvingly noted in AIDS in Africa: How the Poor are Dying (2006), in a passage suggesting strong support for iatrogenic theories about HIV. The book was briefly noted in Facing a Pandemic: The African Church and the Crisis of HIV/AIDS, in a list of alternative theories and urban legends about the origins of the AIDS pandemic, insofar as they relate to African origins. The book is also reviewed in Diane Rozario's The Immunization Resource Guide; Rozario is skeptical of Dr. Horowitz's theory that HIV was engineered, but more receptive of his speculations about accidental iatrogenesis.
Emerging Viruses is cited, quoted and discussed in a number of books about conspiracy theories, mostly approvingly in the case of books written by conspiracy theorists; the genre is at least as intertwined as its theories. Among those who study conspiracy theorizing from a mainstream social pychology perspective, Horowitz seems to be a favored example, along with a few others of the genre who are endowed with a persuasively scholarly and scientific style carried over from mainstream research earlier in their careers..
In a press release dated May 6th, 2003, Dr. Horowitz announced on his (now defunct) website for Healthy World Distributing, LLC that he had, in collaboration with naturopath Joseph Puleo and others, co-developed remedies for SARS. The press release mentions experimental evidence of the efficacy of one of the remedy's ingredients against coronavirus cultures, as well as the results of trials allegedly conducted by Puleo on patients with coronavirus infections. The coronavirus theory of SARS had been announced on or around March 24, 2002,. Thus, Healthy World Distributing was then claiming "an effective treatment" a mere 6 weeks after the initial identification of virus type. These claims attracted some press attention.
The SARS remedies mentioned in Healthy World Distributing's press release all carried the name of "Urbani" in one variation or another. This labeling was ostensibly to "recognize" Carlo Urbani, who had first identified SARS to the World Health Organization as a new, infectious and lethal disease, after it had spread from China to Vietnam, and who had died of SARS shortly afterward on March 29th, 2003. However, the press release did not mention Urbani's role in initial reporting of SARS as such; rather, he is mentioned as "one of the early victims" of SARS, and as a doctor who had been treating patients.
In 2004, the FDA sent Dr. Horowitz a letter of warning regarding his marketing of supposed remedies for SARS. In response to a warning notice from the FTC on May 12, 2003, Horowitz replied the same day, at length, in an "urgent open letter" on one of his (now defunct) websites, CureforSARS.net. After referring to research that Horowitz said supported the viability of his SARS remedy, he wrote
It appears that Horowitz continues to advertise SARS remedies that are similar, if not identical, in composition, as "Urbani SARS Formula.
Horowitz has been cited as influential in the decision of the Nation of Islam to call for a boycott of U.S.-sponsored vaccination programs:
In early 2004, the Nation of Islam publication, The Final Call, wrote the following about Dr. Horowitz:
On April 27th, 2008, Barack Obama's former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, during Q&A at the National Press Club in connection with the general controversy over his opinions, was asked by a moderator
In his response, Rev. Wright mentioned Dr. Horowitz's Emerging Viruses book:
A few commentators have taken note of a reported appearance of a copy of Emerging Viruses in the film, "I Am Legend". The idea that the film is loosely based on Dr. Horowitz's work has appeared in at least one comment section on a popular blog
So far, the source of the reports seems to be only Dr. Horowitz himself. In a press release dated Sep 27, 2006 on one of his websites, he prominently features the following statement:
In his wording in that press release title and in the text, and with his omission of the real basis for the film's storyline, Dr. Horowitz could have left an impression that the film would be based on Emerging Viruses. However, the press release's first paragraph, while repeating most of the title, adds a key qualification by substituting "in a scene of" for "for" in the title:
The press release continues, saying "The non-fiction book complements the science fiction thriller's theme of an intentionally-released virus decimating humanity," which could be read as further contradiction of any impression that Emerging Viruses was the basis of the film, and hence as a corrective to such an impression. Still, the press release does not unambiguously say that only a copy of the book would appear in the film, and it remains an open question whether a copy was used as a prop.
The film obviously parallels the Richard Matheson novel of the same name far more closely than Dr. Horowitz's Emerging Viruses, which is written as a personal account of researching AIDS and Ebola. Searches on blogs and other sources have so far turned up no reports of sightings of the book's cover. It appears that Warner Brothers had, at most, only bought a copy of the book for possible use as a prop, and sought permission from Dr. Horowitz to use it in that manner; the film has no screen credit for Dr. Horowitz. In any case, filming had already begun by mid-October.
As to Horowitz's claim about a theme of "intentional release" of a virus in the film, it's not clear from the film whether the virus had been "intentionally released" or had escaped from labs or clinical trial settings; it is an engineered virus, but was engineered originally for the purpose of preventing and curing cancer, not for biological warfare or genocide. The film's star, Will Smith, was quoted in 1999 in Vanity Fair saying "possibly AIDS was created as a result of biological-warfare testing., as Dr. Horowitz points out. However, it's not clear that Smith got this idea from Dr. Horowitz's book, or whether he had anything to do with the book's appearance (if any) in the film.