HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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Poisonous “prophylaxis”: PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prevention)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/04/08

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has ballyhoo-ed “PrEP: A New Tool for HIV Prevention”  because Truvada has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for preventing HIV infection. Truvada — tenofovir (TDF) plus emtricitabine (FTC) — had been earlier approved (in 2004) for treating HIV infection.

The 4-page CDC Fact Sheet contains no adequate warning of toxicity; the closest is this recommendation: “Disclose to women that safety for infants exposed during pregnancy is not fully assessed but no harm has been reported”.

Media coverage included “Gay men divided over use of HIV prevention drug”; but the reported division was not over the feeding of toxic drugs to healthy people but over whether such prophylaxis might induce people not to use condoms. The story said nothing about the toxicity of Truvada.

But the official Treatment Guidelines, freely available from the National Institutes of Health, have much to say about toxicity:

Adverse Effects of Antiretroviral Agents (Last updated February 12, 2013; last reviewed
February 12, 2013)
Adverse effects have been reported with use of all antiretroviral (ARV) drugs; they are among the most common reasons for switching or discontinuing therapy and for medication nonadherence. . . . However, because most clinical trials have a relatively short follow-up duration, the longer term complications of ART can be underestimated. In the Swiss Cohort study, during 6 years of follow-up, the presence of laboratory adverse events was associated with higher rates of mortality, which highlights the importance of adverse events in overall patient management (page K-7). [In clearer language: these are deadly drugs that can and do kill]

TDF may cause kidney injury in some patients, particularly in those who have pre-existing renal disease or are receiving concomitant nephrotoxic drugs. In addition, TDF induces a greater decline in bone mineral density than other ARV drugs (page F-2).

Renal impairment, manifested by increases in serum creatinine, proteinuria, glycosuria, hypophosphatemia, proximal renal tubulopathy, and acute tubular necrosis, has been associated with TDF use. . . .
participants receiving TDF/FTC experienced a significantly greater decline in bone mineral density than ABC/3TC-treated participants page (F-14).
TDF/FTC — Potential for renal impairment, including proximal tubulopathy and acute or chronic renal insufficiency (Table 6)

[TDF and FTC are both NRTIs (nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors)]
Table 13. Antiretroviral Therapy-Associated Common and/or Severe Adverse Effects
Hepatic effects — reported for most NRTIs
Lactic acidosis —NRTIs
Nephrotoxicity/urolithiasis — TDF: ↑ serum creatinine, proteinuria, hypophosphatemia, urinary phosphate wasting, glycosuria, hypokalemia, non-anion gap metabolic acidosis
Osteopenia/osteoporosis — TDF: Associated with greater loss of BMD than with ZDV, d4T, and ABC.

Even Truvada’s own website acknowledges the serious risks of taking this drug:
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
What is the most important information I should know about TRUVADA?
TRUVADA can cause serious side effects:
Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, nausea, vomiting, stomach-area pain, cold or blue hands and feet, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and/or fast or abnormal heartbeats.
Serious liver problems. Your liver may become large and tender, and you may develop fat in your liver. Symptoms of liver problems include your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and/or stomach-area pain.
You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking TRUVADA for a long time [emphasis added. PrEP implies extended use, but the CDC Fact Sheet says nothing about long-term use increasing the risk of iatrogenic harm]. In some cases, these serious conditions have led to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of these conditions.
Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you also have HBV and take TRUVADA, your hepatitis may become worse if you stop taking TRUVADA. Do not stop taking TRUVADA without first talking to your healthcare provider. If your healthcare provider tells you to stop taking TRUVADA, they will need to watch you closely for several months to monitor your health. TRUVADA is not approved for the treatment of HBV.”

Serious side effects of TRUVADA may also include:
New or worsening kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with TRUVADA. If you develop kidney problems, your healthcare provider may tell you to take TRUVADA less often, or to stop taking TRUVADA. [But the CDC Fact Sheet warns that failure to take Truvada consistently may vitiate its PrEP benefit]
Bone problems, including bone pain or bones getting soft or thin, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones.
Changes in body fat can happen in people taking HIV-1 medicines.
Changes in your immune system. If you have HIV-1 infection and start taking HIV-1 medicines, your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. This may cause minor symptoms such as fever, but can also lead to serious problems. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking TRUVADA.
The most common side effects of TRUVADA are:
In people taking TRUVADA with other HIV-1 medicines to treat HIV-1 infection, common side effects include: diarrhea, nausea, tiredness, headache, dizziness, depression, problems sleeping, abnormal dreams, and rash.
In people taking TRUVADA to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection, common side effects include: headache, stomach-area (abdomen) pain, and decreased weight.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or don’t go away”.

And of course there is the usual
“You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.FDA.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088”.
The ultimate purpose of this statement is to safeguard a drug’s manufacturer against lawsuits stemming from the drug’s toxicity, by pretending concern for patients.

Summary:

A drug with known serious toxic effects,
which become more serious over time,
is being recommended for continuous use
and unlimited use in healthy people.

This would be bad enough

if HIV were actually an infectious agent causing serious illness,
which however it isn’t (see The Case against HIV

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, clinical trials, experts, HIV absurdities, HIV risk groups, Legal aspects, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »

HOW does HIV kill the immune system?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2013/12/24

An alien from another planet, or a naïve believer in the objective nature of science, might imagine that the central, single most important issue of HIV/AIDS theory is the mechanism by which HIV does what it is supposed to do, namely, destroy the CD4 T-cells whose subsequent absence leaves the unfortunate host helpless against opportunistic infections like Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or candidiasis.

“We probably know more about how HIV produces its pathology than about the pathological mechanism of virtually any other microbe”, Robert Gallo asserted already in 1991 (p. 296 in Virus Hunting: AIDS, Cancer, and the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery).
That alien and that naïve observer would naturally conclude that by 1991 it was fully understood, how HIV kills T-cells. As a stark matter of fact, though, two decades after Gallo’s assertion, it remains an unsolved enigma, how HIV could possibly do what HIV/AIDS theory demands of it.

Duesberg [1] first posed the conundrum of how HIV could damage the immune system when it is present in only 0.1-1 % of the lymphocytes it supposedly kills, and is expressed in only 1% of those in which it is present. There have been many imaginative speculations about how the tiny minority of infected cells could somehow cause the whole immune system to collapse [2], but those have been countered by Duesberg [3], and in any case none of the suggested mechanisms has been established by actual evidence. A continually updated website [4] mentions a number of possibilities, again none of which has been definitively established.
The current consensus, such as it is, seems to be that cells are killed by an unspecified “bystander” mechanism under conditions of “chronic inflammation” or “chronic activation”. In absence of any specific description of actual processes, those phrases deserve to be described and dismissed as “hand-waving”, the scientific euphemism for bullshit [5], utterances made without regard for their possible truth value. Insofar as chronic activation or inflammation might be interpreted as a high rate of turnover of immune-system cells, it should be recalled that this notion — the basis for introducing combination antiretroviral therapy, Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment, in the mid-1990s — was shown to be faulty [6].

In any case, as of December 2013, after three decades of belief that HIV kills the immune system, there is no agreement over how it could possibly do so. Thus “Despite more than three decades of study, the precise mechanism(s) underlying the demise of CD4 T cells during HIV infection remains poorly understood and has been highlighted as one of the key questions in HIV research” [7].
Note that the common scientific euphemism “poorly understood” stands for “completely unknown”.

Such a stunning admission of the failure of HIV/AIDS theory is, of course, made only in the context of putting forward a new proposed mechanism, in this case “pyroptosis triggered by abortive viral infection”, which also raises “the possibility of a new class of ‘anti-AIDS’ therapeutics targeting the host rather than the virus” [8].

This latest breakthrough was significant enough to be broadcast to the media even before the actual publications had appeared. [8] was even marked “NOT FINAL PROOF”. Observers of the cutthroat competitiveness in research will also note the skill with which much the same work has been published simultaneously in Nature and in Science, and how the media fell right in by parroting the extravagant claim: “How HIV destroys immune cells” [9] — forgetting, apparently, that half a year earlier an entirely different mechanism and potential treatment had been ballyhooed: “Scientists discover how HIV kills immune cells; findings have implications for HIV treatment” [10].

Fauci pronounced the pyroptosis stuff “really elegant science . . . . It goes a long way to explaining what has been an enigma for practically 30 years” — acknowledging once again that the mainstream hasn’t had a clue for 30 years about the central issue in HIV/AIDS theory; and “going a long way” remains far from actually reaching a goal.

Not that this new understanding, with its implication of an entirely new approach to treatment, would actually supersede anything: “Fauci said such an approach would not replace antiretrovirals (ARVs), which suppress HIV replication and halt disease progression. But it could be used in combination in people who are dealing with highly resistant HIV strains . . . . One of the things about blocking the host response is that it’s very difficult for the virus to mutate to counteract it” [9a].

The lead investigator on the pyroptosis work was suitably modest even as he raised highly unlikely possibilities: “If we get rid of chronic inflammation, will we stop the homeostatic proliferation and degrade the latent reservoir? . . . If it does, caspase-1 inhibitors might — and I emphasize might — become a component of a curative cocktail”.

No matter, really. Ample grounds here for lots more research and the associated research funds.

I venture a prediction: None of these hopes and possibilities will pan out, and nothing more will be heard about them in the future.

________________________________________________________

[1] Peter H. Duesberg, “Retroviruses as carcinogens and pathogens: Expectations and reality”, Cancer Research, 47 (1987)1199-1220
[2]Anthony A. Fauci, “The Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Infectivity and mechanisms of pathogenesis”, Science, 239 (1988) 617-22; Alfred S. Evans, “Does HIV cause AIDS? An historical perspective”, Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 2 (1989) 107-13
[3] Duesberg, “Does HIV cause AIDS?”, Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 2 (1989) 514-7
[4] http://www.microbiologybytes.com/virology/AIDSI.html
[5] Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, 2005
[6] Craddock, “HIV: Science by press conference”, pp. 127-30 in AIDS: Virus or Drug-Induced?, Kluwer, 1996; Duesberg & Bialy, “Duesberg and the right of reply according to Maddox-Nature”, pp. 241-70 in AIDS: Virus or Drug-Induced?, Kluwer, 1996; Roederer, “Getting to the HAART of T cell dynamics”, Nature Medicine, 4 (1998) 145-6; Yates et al., “Understanding the slow depletion of memory CD4+ T cells in HIV infection”, PLoS Medicine, 4 (2007) e177
[7] Monroe et al., “IFI16 DNA sensor is required for death of lymphoid CD4 T cells abortively infected with HIV”, Sciencexpress, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/recent / 19 December 2013 / Page 1/ 10.1126/science.1243640
[8] Doitsh et al., “Cell death by pyroptosis drives CD4 T-cell depletion in HIV-1 infection”, Nature, 2013, doi:10.1038/nature12940
[9] 19 December 2013: [a] Dan Cossins, The Scientist; http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38739/title/How-HIV-Destroys-Immune-Cells;
[b] Anna Azvolinsky, “HIV’s killer tactics revealed, new therapy approach found”, http://www.livescience.com/42101-how-hiv-kills-white-blood-cells-self-destruction.html;
and more
[10] 5 June 2013, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130605144435.htm

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, antiretroviral drugs, experts, HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, uncritical media | Tagged: , , | 30 Comments »

Antiretroviral drugs lead to normal life?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2013/01/02

The advent of antiretroviral “cocktails”, combination antiretroviral therapy, HAART, is said to have made HIV/AIDS a manageable chronic disease to the extent that “HIV-positive” individuals can lead essentially normal lives for essentially normal life-spans — at least according to official statements repeated by the media from interviews with gurus and VIPs and from press releases put out by government agencies and by drug companies.

The technical literature, on the other hand, is replete with descriptions of highly unpleasant, health-threatening “side” effects from all antiretroviral drugs and combinations. Note for instance that the Treatment Guidelines  have been revised once or twice a year for well over a decade, and revisions are made on-line even more frequently, raising suspicions as to just when the treatment became so successful as to permit normal living and why recommendations have still needed to be revised so often.
Moreover, if treatments are so successful, what need is there for patients to “understand the . . . risks of therapy” [emphasis added] and to consider deferring therapy? (Treatment Guidelines, 27 March 2012 version, introductory pages):
“Patients starting ART should be willing and able to commit to treatment and should understand the benefits and risks of therapy and the importance of adherence . . . . Patients may choose to postpone therapy, and providers, on a case-by-case basis, may elect to defer therapy on the basis of clinical and/or psychosocial factors”.

One wonders, too, at such sections in the Guidelines as “What Not to Use: Table 8. Antiretroviral Regimens or Components That Should Not Be Offered At Any Time”.
This includes not only the NRTI monotherapy and Dual-NRTI therapy that was officially lauded from the late 1980s into the mid-1990s before being suddenly superseded. “What Not to Use” also lists a goodly number of combination therapies that were earlier recommended!

There are hints everywhere in these Guidelines that what was once recommended is to be avoided; for example, Table 8 includes such rather inscrutable comments as
“Clinicians caring for patients who are clinically stable on regimens containing TDF + ddI should consider altering the NRTIs to avoid this combination”: Obviously this earlier recommended treatment isn’t all that good. Some earlier combinations are now labeled “When no other ARV options are available and potential benefits outweigh the risks”: What risks? That one might lead a normal life?

“Adherence to treatment” qualifies for quite a bit of discussion in which “adverse drug effects” and “treatment fatigue” are mentioned only toward the end of a list that includes what some people (including me) might regard as nonsense, e.g. “low levels of health literacy . . . or numeracy (ability to understand numerical-related health information)”, which presumably means not believing what they are told when they complain of the debilitating effects of the treatment.

“Adverse Effects of Antiretroviral Agents” (pp. K7-11) documents that all antiretroviral drugs have such nasty “side” effects as “Bleeding events . . . Bone marrow suppression . . . Cardiovascular disease . . . Central nervous system (CNS) effects . . . Diabetes mellitus
(DM)/insulin resistance . . . Dyslipidemia . . . Gastrointestinal (GI) effects . . . Hepatic effects . . . Hypersensitivity reaction . . . Lactic acidosis (NRTIs, especially d4T, ZDV, and ddI ) . . . Lipodystrophy . . . Myopathy/elevated creatine phosphokinase . . . Nephrotoxicity/urolithiasis . . . Osteopenia/osteoporosis . . . Peripheral neuropathy . . . Rash (All NNRTIs) . . . Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS)/ toxic epidermal necrosis (TEN)”.
Here’s a thought experiment: How many people treated with these medications had to develop one of these “side” effects before it was noted and acknowledged? Keeping in mind that when an HIV/AIDS patient is being treated, deterioration in health is usually ascribed at first to “HIV”?

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

This blog post was stimulated by a recent press release (31 December 2012) from the Food and Drug Administration: “FDA approves first anti-diarrheal drug for HIV/AIDS patients — Fulyzaq is the second botanical drug approved by the agency . . . . [It is to be used] to relieve symptoms of diarrhea in HIV/AIDS patients taking antiretroviral therapy . . . . Diarrhea is experienced by many HIV/AIDS patients and is a common reason why patients discontinue or switch their antiretroviral therapies. . . . The median number of daily watery bowel movements was 2.5” (emphasis added; hardly the normal life claimed in official propaganda).
A minor point of interest here is that a “botanical drug” is good when recommended by an official agency, but of course not when it comes from anyone who advises an “alternative” or “complementary” medical approach (“More mainstream alternative treatment for ‘HIV/AIDS’”).

The main general point I want to make is that one learns about the real effects of antiretroviral therapy only from reading between the lines of the official statements and looking into the underlying data. In particular,

continuing praise of new improvements in therapy
means inevitably that earlier treatments
 were less than completely satisfactory,
though that is never stated outright.

For example, that AZT did nothing beneficial and actually killed some proportion of patients has to be inferred from such hints as that it was omitted from estimates of how antiretroviral drugs had decreased mortality “[c]ompared with . . . untreated HIV disease” (“The survival benefits of AIDS treatment in the United States”, Walensky et al., Journal of Infectious Diseases 194 [2006] 11-19); or from noting that when AZT monotherapy was replaced by cocktails, there was an immediate halving  in mortality,  indicating that AZT had been responsible for about 150,000  deaths (“HAART saves lives — but doesn’t prolong them!?”).

The same point applies to how HIV tests are presented to the public, as reliable ways to diagnose infection (e.g. “‘HIV’ tests are self-fulfilling prophecies”; “‘HIV’ tests are demonstrably invalid”; “The Wonderland of ‘HIV’ ‘tests’”; “Health-threatening and life-threatening tests”). By contrast, the technical literature makes plain that no HIV tests or combination of tests can diagnose infection, given the lack of a gold-standard test (S. H. Weiss and E. P. Cowan, “Laboratory detection of human retroviral infection”, Chapter 8 in AIDS and Other Manifestations of HIV Infection, ed. G. P. Wormser, 2004). Straightforward calculations based entirely on official data show that at least half of the people who test positive on HIV tests will suffer no ill health on that account (“Iatrogenic harm following ‘HIV’ testing”, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 15 [#2, 2010] 42-6).

After many years of paying attention to these things, I remain astonished that public pronouncements by official agencies are so stunningly at odds with what is in the technical literature. One simply cannot rely on supposedly authoritative sources. Nor is that only my conclusion:

It is simply no longer possible to believe
 much of the clinical research that is published,
or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians
 or authoritative medical guidelines.
I take no pleasure in this conclusion,
 which I reached slowly and reluctantly
over my two decades as an editor of
 The New England Journal of Medicine
—— Marcia Angell
“Drug companies and doctors: a story of corruption,”
New York Review of Books, 56 #1, 15 January 2009.

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, antiretroviral drugs, experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV/AIDS numbers, uncritical media | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

More benefit from vitamin D

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/11/27

I had recommended the book Prescribing Sunshine which makes a case for the importance of adequate vitamin D. I was just alerted to a new confirming study that also reports that adequate vitamin D seems to be needed for long-term maintenance of high CD4 counts:
“Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with poorer CD4 cell recovery among women who start HIV treatment late . . . Vitamin D has an important role in overall health. Deficient levels have been linked to immune dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, impaired control of infections and depression.
Several studies have found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in people with HIV.”

Most of the women in this study were African-American and nearly 90% had been D-deficient—recall that of African ancestry are at greater-than-average risk of being D-deficient.

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, antiretroviral drugs, clinical trials | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Clinical significance of immune-system laboratory tests

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/11/25

The Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology has now published (volume 116 #1, supplement, 2011, p. 157) the abstract of the poster shown in AIDS Rethinking presented in Mainstream Conferences (posted on 2011/09/29). The mainstream literature now contains this summary of crucial deficiencies of HIV/AIDS theory, in a journal abstracted by PubMed.

Clinical significance of immune-system laboratory tests
Marco  Ruggiero 1 ,  Stefania  Pacini 2 ,  Tiziana  Punzi 2 ,  Gabriele  Morucci 2 ,  Massimo  Gulisano 2   Claus
Koehnlein 3 , Henry H. Bauer 4
1  Dipartimento di Patologia e Oncologia Sperimentali, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italia
2  Dipartimento di Anatomia, Istologia e Medicina Legale, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italia
3  Internistische Praxis, Koenigsweg 14, 24103 Kiel, Germany
4  Chemistry and Science Studies, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24060-5623, USA

Anatomists  and  many  other  medical  specialists  rely  on  clinical  laboratories  for
critical information to assist in diagnosis, prognosis, and the evaluation of treatments.
However, the clinical laboratories do not always accompany their numbers with
sufficient  information  about  the  significance of certain results: how great the quantitative
variation  of  a  given  parameter  might  be  in  healthy  subjects,  and  how  likely  it
might  be  that  a  given  qualitative  (“yes”  or  “no”)  result  is  a  false  positive  or  false
negative. This situation has been particularly troublesome in the case of HIV, because
there is no “gold standard” HIV test and the typically quantitated measure, CD4, varies
widely  for  a  variety  of  reasons  that  have  nothing  to  do  with  HIV  infection.  For
example, a person pronounced HIV-positive after having some vaccinations became
HIV-negative  again  after  a  time,  something  that  is  not  regarded  as  possible  if  HIV-
positive  denotes  definitely  active  infection,  as  is  commonly  assumed.  An  important
consequence  of  deficient  information  about  HIV  epidemiology  is  that  students  of
anatomy may fear risking possible infection in dissection laboratories when the actual
risk  is  negligible  even  in  respect  to  anonymous  cadavers  in  South Africa  where  the
supposed  incidence  of  HIV  is  particularly  high.  We  have  previously  pointed  to  the
need to improve HIV epidemiology and related public policy by recognizing and taking
into  account  the  weaknesses  in  HIV  testing,  which  are  the  probable  reason  for
at  least  some  of  the  troubling  conundrums  and  mutually  contradictory  data  that
seem inexplicable: conflicting estimates of HIV infections and of  HIV-disease deaths
from  equally  authoritative  sources;  apparently  drastically  different  primary  modes
of  transmission  in  different  geographic  regions;  extreme  racial  disparities  in  HIV
infection,  with Asians  and Asian Americans  consistently  less  affected,  by  about  one
third,  than  white Americans,  while  black Americans  are  affected  by  as  much  as  an
order of magnitude more than white Americans. Testing uncertainties doubtless also
contribute  to  the  confusion  as  to  whether  certain  conditions  (e.g.  lipodystrophy  or
nephropathy) should be described as HIV-associated or as AIDS-associated. In recent
work  we  have  found  that  the  immune  system,  including  CD4  counts,  can  be  markedly
enhanced by easily modified dietary supplementation that has none of the toxic
side-effects  of  the  antiretroviral  drugs  currently  used  in  the  attempt  to  elevate  CD4
counts in HIV-positive people.

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, HIV tests | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

 
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