Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/12/28
Sharon Stone’s assertion that AIDS is “the fourth leading killer of women in America” (WORLD AIDS DAY…, 22 December) led me to discover that official death statistics now contain the category “HIV disease”.
Perhaps this is a natural progression from the belief that HIV causes AIDS; but it muddies the waters even further by declaring “HIV” to be something that causes harm without specifying what that harm is.
The trouble is that testing HIV-positive can result from a large number of conditions; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has kept expanding the list of “AIDS-defining” diseases, to include just about any medical condition if an appreciable number of people suffering from it have tested HIV-positive. Thus cervical cancer became an AIDS-defining illness in 1993, even though that is said to be caused by human papillomavirus, not by HIV, and even though the incidence of cervical cancer has been decreasing throughout the AIDS era; and tuberculosis now comes in two forms, identical in clinical diagnosis and symptoms and differing solely in “HIV” status—one is tuberculosis, the other is “HIV disease” or “AIDS”.
AIDS, as described and named in the early 1980s, bears little if any relationship to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now call “HIV disease”. Historians and sociologists of medical science will find it fascinating as well as onerous to untangle how the former was transformed into the latter.
In the 1980s, all people suffering from AIDS were manifestly and seriously ill, expected to die within a matter of months after being diagnosed. By 1997 (the latest year in which the CDC reports detailed this information), more than half of the people “living with AIDS” (PWAs) were not even ill. Out of a cumulative total of 315,000 PWAs, 180,000 had been diagnosed as having AIDS purely on the basis of laboratory tests, amounts of CD4+ cells, even if they evidenced no symptoms of illness; they were “persons reported with immunosuppression as their only AIDS-indicator condition” (CDC Surveillance Report for 1997, p. 18).
“These persons may also have other AIDS-indicator conditions that are unreported”, the document continues. That may of course be so, but in absence of reporting one has to assume that there was nothing to report. Beyond that, the remark illustrates the lack of relevant information that is a major hindrance to understanding what is really going on in “HIV/AIDS”.
For example (WORLD AIDS DAY…, 22 December), official death statistics have it that about 2% of deaths in 2004 among black females aged between 10 and 14 were from “HIV disease”–which means they were HIV-positive when they died, but they might also have had flu, pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis, or any of the host of other conditions known to be capable of causing a positive HIV-test. Without knowing from what immediate, manifest sickness those young black female teenagers died, it is hardly possible to judge the validity of labeling those deaths as “HIV disease”.
When were these unfortunate teens first found to be HIV-positive? If it was only at death, perhaps it was death that caused the positive HIV-test, for fatal trauma seems to be associated with a high probability of testing HIV-positive (see references cited at p. 85 in The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
If it was at birth, were the children treated with antiretroviral drugs, whose “side” effects could well have resulted in death a decade or so later?
If the children had not been born HIV-positive, how and when did they become “infected”?
These questions are pressing if only because it is only black and Hispanic teenagers who are reported to be so at risk in those early teen years: not Native American, Asian, or white teens (from CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, 56 #5, 20 November 2007):
Under HIV/AIDS and “HIV disease” theory, one has to accept that these young teens were HIV-positive because of sexual intercourse or needle-sharing, or had been infected by their mothers. Must we accept that African-American and Hispanic communities have so much higher an incidence of child molestation or children using dirty needles to inject drugs than do Native American, Asian or white American communities? Or that African-American and Hispanic men infect their female partners with HIV so much more often than do Native American, Asian, or white men?
Rhetorical as those last questions may be, the earlier ones illustrate the genuine need for specific information that is presently hidden under the umbrella of “HIV disease”.
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Up to 1987, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 29,000 cases of AIDS and 16,300 deaths: for both cases and deaths, 65% from Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), 20-25% from other opportunistic infections, and 10-15% from Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). In 1997, 61% of the 60,000 people with “AIDS-indicator conditions” may not have been ill at all, they had no reported symptoms of opportunistic infections, having been diagnosed on the basis of lab tests. PCP accounted for only 15% of “AIDS” cases in 1997 instead of 65% a decade earlier, and KS accounted for only 2.5% instead of 10-15%.
By what sleight of evidence did “AIDS” of the early 1980s become “HIV disease” of the late 1990s?
In 1987, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the criteria for an AIDS diagnosis to include “HIV wasting syndrome” and “HIV encephalopathy”. Those terms imply that HIV had been found to cause a particular type of wasting and a particular type of brain disease, but that’s not the case; the terms simply mean that some people with those two conditions had tested HIV-positive. But as already noted above, dozens of conditions are known to be associated with testing HIV-positive—autoimmune diseases, herpes, pregnancy, malaria, flu and vaccination against it or against hepatitis or against tetanus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supposedly the nation’s prime resource for epidemiology, persistently makes the elementary mistake of taking correlations as indicating causation (see, for instance, p. 194 in The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory). Instead of recognizing that any number of circumstances that disturb the immune system can simulate a positive HIV-test, CDC kept expanding what it called “AIDS-defining” conditions without proof that HIV is the cause of those conditions.
“HIV wasting syndrome” is not even clearly defined. For example, “Involuntary weight loss of greater than 10 percent associated with intermittent or constant fever and chronic diarrhoea or fatigue for more than 30 days in the absence of a defined cause other than HIV infection. A constant feature is major muscle wasting with scattered myofibre degeneration. A variety of aetiologies, which vary among patients, contributes to this syndrome.” That last sentence reveals that the actual causes—note the plural “aetiologies”—vary among those who suffer from the wasting, in other words, the common factor of “HIV” is not the cause, even though the term “HIV wasting syndrome” implies that it is.
Or consider the “fact sheet” at aids.org. “AIDS wasting is not well understood”, and several factors can contribute, such as “low food intake”, “poor nutrient absorption”, “altered metabolism”. Perhaps all those can indeed be caused by a retrovirus, but there are any number of other possible causes as well, which would be invoked readily enough in people who are not HIV-positive.
Or look at what Gay Health News has to say: “symptoms of wasting include weight loss, loss of fat and muscle mass (particularly on the sides of your head), diarrhea, fever, malnutrition, depression, poor appetite and weakness”. Surely no one would suggest that those can be directly caused by a retrovirus!
But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases asserts that it can: “HIV wasting syndrome [is] . . . defined as unintended and progressive weight loss often accompanied by weakness, fever, nutritional deficiencies and diarrhea. . . . Wasting can occur as a result of HIV infection itself [emphasis added] but also is commonly associated with HIV-related opportunistic infections and cancers”. What this really means is that when HIV-positive people in high-risk groups lose weight, “HIV” is taken to be the reason for the weight loss. How that might come about is no better understood, however, than how “HIV” is supposed to kill immune-system cells.
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Assertions about HIV/AIDS and “HIV disease” are based on a variety of assumptions grounded in the belief that HIV is the sexually transmitted cause of AIDS. That belief has survived the facts that “HIV” has never been isolated from an “infected” person; that a significant number of HIV-positive people never become ill; that a significant number of AIDS patients are HIV-negative; that “HIV” and AIDS are not correlated chronologically, geographically, or in their relative impact on different groups of people; that laboratory tests for viral load and CD4 cells do not correlate with one another and that neither correlates with the patient’s health; and more.
Belief in HIV/AIDS theory also entails acceptance of a variety of implausible things, such as that married women are at the highest risk of infection for a venereal disease (TO AVOID HIV INFECTION, DON’T GET MARRIED, 18 November); that babies are less likely to become infected, the more infected mothers’ milk they imbibe (MORE HIV, LESS INFECTION: THE BREASTFEEDING CONUNDRUM, 21 November); that a venereal disease has remained voluntarily quarantined in the same geographic and social boundaries for more than two decades; that this venereal disease displays demographic regularities not shown by any other venereal disease; that this “virus” mutates more rapidly than any other, yet all mutants remain equally cunning and equally deadly—though some portions of the virus remain sufficiently not-mutated as to allow its ancestry to be traced decades into the past.
Not to mention that this virus kills by means of a quite novel mechanism, a so-called “bystander” mechanism (Rowland-Jones & Dong, Nature Medicine, 13: 1413-5): it is supposed to incite certain unknown others to do the killing via certain unknown signals.
“Bystander”, perhaps. But a better term might be “Abracadabra!” or “Open sesame!” mechanism, since the phenomenon reeks of magic; or perhaps it is a psychic phenomenon akin to extrasensory perception or psychokinesis, where a physical effect is brought about by non-physical means.