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AIDS... and the unanswered questions


Professor B. M. Hegde

“Lies, damned lies and statistics.” — Benjamin Disraeli.

Researchers are excited about AIDS as there are lots of funds available if one could jump on their bandwagon. Infracaninophiles, both rich and the powerful, are bending over backwards for AIDS charity. Of course, the drug companies are laughing their way to their banks. With all these frantic activity around AIDS, a so-called disease, many fundamental questions still await answers from the powers that be.

Someone listed those questions some time ago but I have modified them a bit and hope some responsible person in the seat of power, in both the great “science” field and the government machinery that patronises AIDS research, would answer these questions to set the record straight. The sooner it is done the better as the drugs in question against retroviruses are potentially highly toxic.

Nobody bothers about a greater disease, NIDS (Nutritional Immune Deficiency Syndrome) as there is no money involved and the victims are helpless, anyway. The world load of AIDS is about 30 million. India’s load of NIDS is 67 million, mostly children.

The first time any new discovery was announced at a press conference was when the viral cause of AIDS was announced. Why was it not done through a science paper in a peer reviewed journal as usual? Montaigner’s first paper in Nature was only a case report where he found the virus in the bone marrow of the first victim of this disease. Bone marrow of AIDS patients contains many organisms anyway. How was it proved to be the cause? HIV was found ONLY in 40 per cent of AIDS patients. Does that fit into Koch’s postulates?

Chimpanzees that were infected with the HIV virus did not develop AIDS, another lapse in Koch’s postulates. Why hasn’t the HIV Antibody Test been validated? There is no control study that proves what percentage of people testing HIV-positive have been confirmed to have active HIV virus in their blood by a viral isolation culture and what percentage of people testing HIV-negative have been confirmed not to have active HIV in their blood?

To the best of my knowledge there is no scientific basis for the CDC of America to take an arbitrary decision in 1987 that a positive HIV test means current infection. Why are there three different testing standards — the Western blot, the CDC standard and the Red Cross standard? How is it that Britain does not depend on the Western blot? “Why does the HIV viral load test use “probes” and “primers” based on the same invalidated, non-specific proteins that are used in the HIV Antibody Test?

Some HIV-negative individuals have a heavy HIV viral load. This is intriguing indeed. The vital question is: why are toxic drugs still being given for an unproven viral disease? Liver failure from the side-effects of the antiretroviral medications is the number one cause of death for AIDS patients.

What worries me more than all these is that we, as human beings, have trillions of viral genes in our metagenome among which nearly eight per cent are retroviruses, while we have just about 25,000 human genes. Our own retroviruses could react with the HIV test to give a false positive test result! Our scientists being so reductionist in their vision, the wider picture misses their radar. While this story of viral origin of AIDS was developing little did the scientists concerned know about the existence of viral genes in our own metagenome?

Are we endangering a whole generation based on our wrong scientific presumptions? I would love to be proved wrong but, if I am right, we are committing a great sin against humankind, thanks to the ego, greed, and short-sightedness of our so-called scientists, the industry and the medical establishment which zealously guards its rice bowl.

Our metagenome has a retrovirus, HERV-W, which is vital for the placental attachment to the mother’s uterus. When a girl gets pregnant there is a spurt in the number of these retroviruses in the system. Could that be one of the reasons why many women tested for HIV during pregnancy (as happened in Africa) become HIV-positive? A dangerous question to ask but ask we must as we are treating such women with a very powerful antiretroviral drug, which works by tricking the DNA to break up! This process of breaking up of the DNA could lead to mutations, cancers and nerve damage in the long-run. The drug is a DNA chain analogue, indeed!

Now I realise why a Nobel laureate chemist, father of the PCR test that identifies viruses in the laboratory, Kary Mullis of Berkeley University, writing in the foreword for that epoch-making book by his illustrious colleague, the best virology professor in the U.S., Peter Duesberg, titled Inventing the AIDS Virus had this to say: “Peter and I do not know what causes AIDS … but we know one thing for certain, which no one could dispute, as I am the inventor of the PCR test to identify viruses and Peter is the best brain in Virology alive today. HIV virus DOES NOT CAUSE AID Syndrome.”

Whenever a new disease crops up, scientists are pushed to the wall to find a cause. Most of the time they lean on some virus or the other. We have made people suffer because of this. SMON, subacute myelo-optic neuropathy, was one such fatal mistake that we did. It was declared to be a slow virus disease like Kuru. Eventually, it proved to be an adverse drug reaction to a commonly used anti-diarrhoeal quinolone derivative!

Beriberi was treated with arsenic in the mistaken theory that it was a bacterial disease. So was pellagra until it was shown to be a deficiency disease. Little do we realise that this world is full of trillions of viruses including our own genes which harbour trillions of them! Blaming a virus is easy but humankind might have to pay a heavy price for wrong science. For, scientists it might all be in the game.

If we put ourselves in those hapless patients’ shoes, we will know how it feels to be let down by our saviours. God save mankind!

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” — William Wordsworth.

(The writer is a former professor of Cardiology, Middlesex Medical School, London, and former Vice-Chancellor, Manipal University. Email: hegdebm@gmail.com)




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