The properties of HIV are so unusual, indeed actually unique, that one has been tempted at times to consider them supernatural.
§ This virus, unlike any other, does not lose its virulence as it mutates, at an extraordinary rate, into dozens of “strains” and “recombinants”.
§ None of the strains can be neutralized by vaccination, and none of them can be inactivated by chemical microbicides.
§ HIV is “distinctively difficult to transmit” (according to its discoverer, Robert Gallo, p. 131 in Virus Hunting), with estimated rates of sexual transmission on the order of a few per thousand acts of unprotected intercourse; and yet it has produced explosively rapid epidemics — albeit only in restricted geographical regions and among specific groups of people in those regions.
§ It spreads by quite different mechanisms in different parts of the world.
§ In western Asia it spreads primarily through infected needles, even though the needles have no intercourse with one another.
§ It is transmitted from mother to child via breast milk, but not if the child is exclusively breast-fed.
§ It is quite politically incorrect, choosing to infect black people at rates 7-20 times greater than it infects white people, and it is even kinder to Asians who are infected at only about 2/3 the rate of whites.
§ It first infected human beings in mid-west Africa, but it caused disease first in discrete places in the USA and only among heavy users of drugs and indiscriminately and unsafely promiscuous people. Only a decade or two later did it (re)invade Africa, to cause its greatest damage not where it first appeared but only in the blackest regions of the South.
§ Though transmitted almost exclusively via sexual intercourse, it is most prone to infect people who are the least likely to be promiscuous, for instance pregnant women and tuberculosis patients.
§ Every other disease and illness kills older people more readily than younger adults; the mortality of people infected with HIV, however, is independent of age.
§ As time went by, HIV — in all its strains and varieties — learned how to cause more and more different illnesses — though none of them are new. At first HIV only knew how to cause Kaposi’s sarcoma, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, and thrush. But soon it learned how to cause wasting, then dementia, and soon cervical cancer. By now it is producing cardiovascular disease and kidney and liver failure. One might say, therefore, that HIV is a quite novel type of virus, a new sort that one might call a cuckoo type of virus, doing its damage by mimicking other causes just as cuckoos lay their eggs in foreign nests.
And so on. For fuller coverage of the uniqueness of HIV, please browse the posts under the category “HIV absurdities”.
But now HIV has outdone even itself: It has infected the baby of HIV-negative parents without the baby being exposed to any of the other known routes of HIV transmission:
“Mystery shrouds detection of HIV in 18-month-old”
It is difficult not to see in this a number of clues, signs, omens, that something supernatural is at work. “Mystery” is often used in connection with religious matters; and “shrouds” reminds one immediately of the Shroud of Turin.
Something or someone somewhere is somehow sending us a message.