HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Posts Tagged ‘selenium’

Elsevier publishes another HIV-denialist article

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/01/13

“[T]here is extensive evidence that certain micronutrient deficiencies are associated with faster disease progression or increased mortality risk, and that dietary supplements . . . can prolong survival in HIV/AIDS. . . .
one aspect stands out in importance: the potential relationship to oxidative stress. . . . the antioxidant role of selenium in glutathione peroxidases . . . .
a daily supplement of 200 μg of selenium alone stopped progression of HIV-1 viral load increases, and lead [sic] to  improved  CD4  counts. . . . selenium status was reported to be 10 times  more  significant  than  CD4  cell  count  as  a  predictor  of   mortality. . . .
HIV infection is typically characterized by a dramatic decline in glutathione levels . . . [which] suggests an abnormal degree of biological oxidation, manifesting as elimination of cysteine sulfur as sulfate. A key feature of HIV disease is an apparent ‘antioxidant defect’ . . . [which] can be aggravated by co-factors such as malnutrition, co-infection with other microorganisms, and the use of various oxidant   drugs, such as nitrites. . . .
Intermediates of oxidative tryptophan metabolism have also been implicated in neurotoxicity, potentially contributing to AIDS dementia. . . .
oxidative   stress   can   induce niacin/NAD+ depletion. . . .
The oxidative stress-induced niacin sink (OSINS) model for HIV pathogenesis. . . . links oxidative stress and selenium to the observed tryptophan abnormalities and immunosuppression in HIV/AIDS. . . . [and] provides a mechanism whereby oxidative stress associated with HIV infection can contribute to immunosuppression via tryptophan deletion, as well as neurotoxicity via toxic tryptophan metabolites and ATP depletion. . . .
But whatever the source of oxidative stress, there would be a net effect towards niacin depletion and compensatory tryptophan oxidation. . . .
the need for certain nutrients in HIV infection may be largely secondary to an underlying defect that could be largely rectified by another nutrient, with antioxidants being the most fundamental to an effective regimen. . . .
whatever underlies or contributes to the antioxidant defect and increased oxidative stress . . . leads also to intracellular niacin depletion, and thereby to tryptophan depletion, with an end result of immunosuppression . . . and also T-cell loss” [emphases added].

It might seem natural to infer that this was written by the Perth Group, who have argued for upwards of two decades that “AIDS” results from oxidative stress, possibly with co-authorship by Rebecca Culshaw, who described the crucial role of glutathione, and by Harold Foster, who has long argued the central role of selenium, not to mention Matthias Rath, who has long spoken up for the value of micronutrients in treating AIDS patients.
But no. What’s more, none of those earlier publications are mentioned in this article by Ethan Will Taylor, “The oxidative stress-induced niacin sink (OSINS) model for HIV pathogenesis”, published on-line in Toxicology (Received 1 July 2009 — Received in revised form 10 October 2009 — Accepted 15 October 2009 — On-line at PubMed 24 October  [Epub ahead of print, PMID: 19857540, ).

(The review is described as “Hypothesis”, suggesting it might equally have been accepted by another Elsevier journal, Medical Hypotheses, were it not that the latter seems nowadays to bar anything that questions HIV/AIDS orthodoxy.)

At any rate, this article talks about “HIV-associated” oxidative stress and the benefits of nutritional supplements in “HIV-infected” people without demonstrating that “HIV” is actually involved. Essentially the same network of reactions and feedback applies in any situation of oxidative stress, as noted in the article: “whatever the source of oxidative stress . . . whatever underlies or contributes to the antioxidant defect and increased oxidative stress”. The only suggested involvement of HIV in the network of reactions is via a postulated stimulation of IDO (indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase) by tat and nef proteins and an increased level of interferon γ ascribed to viral infection and immune activation.

If it could be shown that under generalized oxidative stress, substances are released that are capable of yielding an “HIV-positive” response, that would combine with this comprehensive review of the literature to make oxidative stress an entirely plausible cause of AIDS, a worthy alternative to the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.

In point of fact, it is already well and long known that “HIV-positive” is a condition that can be brought on by a large range of conditions and infections: hypergammaglobulinemia, tuberculosis, or vaccination against flu, and dozens more documented by Christine Johnson (“Whose antibodies are they anyway? Factors known to cause  false positive HIV antibody test results”, Continuum, #3, Sept./Oct. 1996, p.4, anti-tetanus shots (Saag et al., Nature Med 1996;2:625-9 and Gonnelli et al., Lancet 1991;337:731), and even pregnancy (Taha et al., AIDS 1998;12:197-203; Gray et al., Am J Obstet Gynecol 2001;185:1209-17; Gray et al., Lancet 2005;366:1182-8). Drug abusers very often test “HIV-positive”. That the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included increasing numbers of conditions as “AIDS-defining” after “HIV-positive” became a criterion reflects the fact that many illnesses induce oxidative stress and the resulting “HIV-positive” status.

Here is a simple way of Rethinking AIDS:
There are two hypotheses.
1. AIDS is caused by a previously unknown retrovirus that first infected gay men simultaneously in several large metropolitan areas in the United States even though it had first crossed into humans in Africa. No vaccine or microbicide against it has been found after more than two decades of concentrated effort. Transmitted sexually, it is however very difficult to transmit, which is why it has remained within the original risk groups of promiscuous drug-abusing gay men and other drug abusers, except in Africa where 20-40% of the adult population has several sexual partners simultaneously and changes them frequently (James Chin, The AIDS Pandemic); however, the retrovirus has never actually been observed, in prospective studies, to be transmitted sexually. It kills T-cells by some unknown but certainly indirect as well as obscure mechanism. Though transmitted by breastfeeding, it is transmitted less, the greater the degree of exclusive breastfeeding. The presence of antibodies denotes active infection even when no actual virus can be detected. Some significant proportion of those infected remain healthy, even as no reason for this immunity has been discovered. One of the three original salient AIDS diseases supposedly caused by this retrovirus, Kaposi’s sarcoma, turns out not to be caused by it after all. Antibodies to the retrovirus appear after vaccination against flu, or after an anti-tetanus shot, and in a host of illnesses as well as natural conditions of some physiological stress like pregnancy. In an appreciable number of AIDS cases, no antibodies or retrovirus could be found, but this could be explained away as another new disease, idiopathic CD4-T-cell lymphopenia. Drugs that kill the virus do not correlate with restoration of the immune system nor with improved health. Indeed, purported restoration of the immune system with these drugs brings on another new ailment, “immune restoration syndrome”, a worsening of clinical condition with symptoms that mimic AIDS. The retrovirus mutates at unprecedented speed, so that infected individuals harbor not a single variant but a swarm of variants; and all variants and strains appear to be pathogenic to similar extents. Antiretroviral treatment is by toxic drugs whose side effects are so severe that non-compliance by patients has been observed or estimated at nearly 50%. Deaths from AIDS continue to occur in the same age-range as before, roughly mid-30s to late 40s. Although the retrovirus is latent for an average of a decade before causing illness, the age of first infection, of first AIDS diagnosis, and of death are all in that same age range.
2. AIDS is caused by oxidative stress. Proof: dietary supplements of antioxidants and essential minerals and vitamins restore health and extend life without dangerous side effects.

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, HIV absurdities, HIV as stress, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, sexual transmission, vaccines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments »

SELENIUM: Mainstreamers again follow rethinkers as to dietary supplements

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/14

“Anecdotal” reports that “HIV-positive” people experience improved health from dietary supplements have long been pooh-poohed by the Pooh-Bahs of the HIV/AIDS Establishment. Periodically, however, mainstream journals publish “scientific” reports that “micronutrients” improve the health of “HIV-positive” people, see for instance WHAT’S IN A NAME? VITAMIN THERAPY BAD, MICRONUTRIENT THERAPY GOOD, 16 May 2008; David Rasnick, “The AIDS ribbon is a noose around the neck of Africa”, at www.dipmat.unipg.it/~mamone/sci-dem/sci&dem.htm, posted 9 May 2008.

This month, Dr. Barry Hurwitz of the University of Miami reported a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of selenium supplements stretching over 9 months and enrolling 262 HIV-positive people [“Selenium for HIV”, WFTV.com, 1 July 2008]. Selenium controlled or even lowered viral load, there was a positive dose-response correlation, and selenium also led to higher CD4 counts. According to Hurwitz, “I liken the effect of selenium to a lion tamer in a zoo. . . . What it tends to do is make viruses more docile and they are less likely to replicate. The effect of selenium appears to be acting directly on the virus”.

In April, a 5-year study from Tanzania reported that “micronutrient supplements appeared to decrease the risk of early tuberculosis recurrences among HIV-positive patients”; and there was “significantly decreased… incidence of peripheral neuropathy, regardless of HIV status”. Details are in articles by CS Benn et al. and by E Villamor et al. in Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol. 197 [2008], 1487-9 and 1499-1505 respectively (available free online).

Neither of the latter articles, nor the media reports, mentioned the name of Harold D. Foster, who has been amassing and disseminating information about the benefits of selenium supplements for AIDS patients (among others). In numerous articles and a book, “What really causes AIDS” (download available at Foster’s website), Foster brings together a wealth of sources that report a significant correlation of availability of selenium with a better prognosis for AIDS patients as well as with a lower frequency of positive HIV tests. A recent concise summary is in “Nutrients used in AIDS cases offer hope”, Well Being Journal, May/June 2008, 14-19.

Like Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath, Foster is an enthusiast for his cause who may lapse into over-enthusiasm. His website offers several other books, he considers selenium to offer benefits also in treating schizophrenia, and he seems in general an advocate of the orthomolecular approach to medicine. He is therefore readily found guilty by association with unorthodox views; but his claims are fully documented, often from mainstream sources; and, as noted above, mainstream researchers who happen to look in similar directions as Foster come to similar conclusions, albeit they fail to credit him for being there before them.

Foster makes a number of sound arguments against current standard practices in treatment of AIDS patients, but he accepts the theory that HIV is the cause of AIDS. However, all his data are equally compatible with the view that selenium is a necessary trace element, that its deficiency makes people more vulnerable to a range of illnesses and infections, and that remedying the deficiency makes for generally better health and ability to fight off infections.

Foster’s work is well worth attending to because it is so determinedly EMPIRICAL. One can learn from the evidence he cites and the sources he references, whether or not one ultimately draws the same conclusions as he does. Those of us who know that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS can still recognize the value of providing malnourished people with dietary supplements, and we can accept comfortably that “AIDS” patients benefit from such treatment, possibly even more than people who are less ill to begin with.

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