HIV possesses wondrous powers. Antibodies specific to it don’t neutralize it. Innumerable ingenious approaches to generating a vaccine have turned up no clue as to what might be effective against it. HIV exists as and mutates into an endless variety of clades, strains, sub-strains, and recombinant hybrid strains that evade immune responses and which, unlike other mutated pathogens, remain fully pathogenic. HIV kills the immune system by mechanisms so subtle that they have remained secret despite 25 years of investigation, and by mechanisms equally unknown it causes chronic inflammation, cause cancers of all sorts, and damages such organs as heart, kidney, liver. This is surely the cleverest pathogen evolution has produced — leaving us with a final puzzle of why it has not spread beyond the groups initially affected and why any human beings still remain alive.
But wondrous as HIV may be, in terms of resisting immune responses it is at least equaled by the worms that cause elephantiasis, which use human-made vaccines as a stimulus to ever greater spread:
“Parasitic worms can adjust their survival strategy based on their host’s immune response. This means potential vaccines against elephantiasis might make the infection spread more easily through communities.”
This should serve as a grave warning to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. If they do ever come up with a vaccine that shows the slightest promise of guarding against “HIV infection”, you may be sure that “HIV” will capitalize on it to spread even further and faster.