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AIDS Denial

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Joined: 30 Jul 2005
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So I spent an hour watching the first part of the video Mike D posted.!

Mike asked me what I thought.
So I'm on holiday, I dug the garden yesterday and it's good to open the mind and do some reading and listening.

I haven't been converted.
I believe the earth is one way and I haven't been persuaded it's the other.
The thing I most object to is Duesberg's claim that AIDS in developed countries is a disease of gay lifestyle but more below.

I first have to declare my interest.
As Frank Harris would say I'm a medical guildsman but I have no other vested interest in defending the role of HIV in causing AIDS.
Although I am not an HIV physician I do occasionally care for people, most often immigrants who present late, with AIDS defining illnesses in intensive care. We measure their HIV antibodies, viral load and CD4 count and then administer antibiotics with the aim of treating the secondary infections which define the illness (most commonly PCP). The number of patients with advanced AIDS has fallen dramatically during my career.
For me this is the best evidence that AIDS is a disease caused by HIV. Since the introduction of HAART HIV doctors have found themselves almost twidling their thumbs because so few patients need admission. Doctors I have spoken to tell me that its a much less exciting job because the majority of patients are now well and the speciality has moved from the inpatient ward to the outpatient department.

Here's a paper that documents the change presentation since the introduction of HAART which also documents concerns regarding long term side effects of the drugs. NB I readily admit the drugs are toxic and that big pharma are another great evil of capitalism. I can send a copy of papers listed if you ask.

The changing clinical epidemiology of AIDS in the
highly active antiretroviral therapy era
Caroline A. Sabin
AIDS 2002, 16 (suppl 4):S61S68

The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy
(HAART) has had dramatic effects on the clinical consequences
of HIV infection in the developed world
[15]. Improvements in survival and reductions in the
numbers of individuals developing AIDS have been documented
in all groups, including those at very late stages
of infection who previously had a poor prognosis [6].
However, these improvements have not come without a
cost; many antiretroviral drugs are known to be associated
with the risk of development of serious adverse
events [7], and the reduction in the number of deaths
from AIDS means that the effect of other co-morbidities
is now becoming apparent [8]. It is thus unclear whether
the positive trends seen since 1997 will continue, and
clinicians must re-examine the way in which they assess
prognosis to take account of these changes.
The present review will describe the recent changes in
the clinical spectrum of HIV and will evaluate the roles
that other factors may now play in the development of
clinical disease.

OK so that is my prejudice.

So onto the video.

From the producers website it is from 2000 with interviews conducted before that.
I think some of the questions are interesting but also that they have been answered by more recent research - ie it's out of date.

Having watched the first half of the video I tried to answer the first ten points it raises by doing my own literature search without referenceing other rebuttals other than for question 7. Given that the points are interesting but all seem easily answered I've stopped there.

From the start of the video Duesberg makes some other points which I answer briefly.

Duesberg commenting on the fact that Gallo claimed discovery that a retrovirus causes AIDS

- "What else would you expect from a scientist who's studied retroviruses for all his career?"

Which is just an ad hominem. If AIDS is caused by a retrovirus who is the most likely person to discover it other than a retrovirus expert?

Duesberg - "it would have been the first time a retrovirus has been identified as a cause of disease."

Unless you believ in a positivist paradigm of scientific investigation that doesn't preclude HIV from causing disease.

Duesberg believes drug use and lifestyle are the causes of AIDS

Reactionary and disproven.

AZT also causes it.

Which doesn't explain the thousands of deaths arising before it was available.

1. Antibody immunity clears HIV and therefore the virus shouldn't come back.
Duesberg - No precedent for recurrence.

Rebuttal - Again just because it's the first time doesn't mean it's impossible.

Nature. 2002 Dec 12;420(6916):678-82.
HIV-1 evades antibody-mediated neutralization through conformational masking of receptor-binding sites.
Kwong PD,

2. No retrovirus kills it's host cell

Rebuttal - It looks as though the immune system kills virus infected cells.

3. Most T-cells are uninfected.

Rebuttal -HIV infection leads to death of unifected cells.

In vivo evolution of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 toward increased pathogenicity through CXCR4-mediated killing of uninfected CD4 T cells.
Jekle A, Keppler OT, De Clercq E, Schols D, Weinstein M, Goldsmith MA.
J Virol. 2003 May;77(10):5846-54.

Further, contrary to what he says about early investigators being unable to find HIV directly we now measure the viral load of HIV in the serum as a marker of illness progression. Again despite what he says, more than half of the T cells do die.

4. HIV has no disease causing genes.

Rebuttal See the paper for 2. HIV induces a chronic immune reaction because it infects an immune cell.
The immune cells are depleted and opportunistic infections cause the disease.

5. There is no such thing as a virus which acts slowly

Rebuttal Again see 2. Chronic inflammation causes CD4 depletion rather than the HIV virus itself. HIV is never inactive.

6. HIV incidence was steady therefore it must be old.

Rebuttal Can't anser this directly because I don't have the data he's basing his claim on but from this graph it looks like there were a range of estimates for the prevalence of HIV infection and that the prevalence may have risen from low estimates in the 1980's and is thus not at a steady state. Given that it was hard to measure the virus initially then it's not surprising that there was uncertainty regarding the number of infected people.

7.Kochs postulates have not been fulfilled.
Rebuttal - They have.

8.Not spreading outside of initial at risk groups.
Rebuttal - By 2006 1 in 3 new infections in US from heterosexual intercourse.

9. There are differences in the presentation of symptoms geographically which mean it can't be the same disease.
I speculate that there are differences in the virus itself, differences in behaviour of people with the disease and most importantly differences in the level of poverty. There are many examples of this. Streptococcus causes sore throats in developed countries but heart disease in the developing world.

10. HIV not found in patients with AIDS.
Well I presume this was due to the inaccuracy of the testing 20 years ago.
HIV is a sin que non of AIDS and the vast majority of patients with HIV develop AIDS unless treated. Poppers don't cause AIDS.

All of the secondary manifestations of the disease are found in non HIV infected people but HIV massively increases the incidence. The AIDS defining diseases are all generally illnesses of immune supression.

I think there are better rebuttals than mine.
Mon May 07, 2012 5:25 pm
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