Some facts about HIV

a) We have no effective vaccines against ANY retroviruses. It is not surprising that we are having a devil of a time developing one for AIDS. It is VERY hard for one to produce a vaccine against an organism that incorporates itself into the host genome and can replicate every time the host cell divides without going throught the traditional viral replication process. This fact seems to be lost on the general public, which assumes that it is equally feasible to produce a vaccine against AIDS as it is against, say measles. Unfortunately, it's not even close.

b) There is a slightly different strain of AIDS in Africa. In addition, there are "helper viruses", viruses that aid in the infectivity of the AIDS virus, that are present for totally unrelated reasons in Africa. The name of the helper virus escapes me at the moment, but I believe it is associated with Burkitt's lymphoma (a cancer of the blood prevalent in young Africans)

c) There is another helper virus (damn - I gotta look up the names again) in the Carribean, that is gaining in prevalence (all we need... :-( )

d) Although the AIDS infectivity rate is high in the IV drug user and homosexual populations in the U.S. (and rising quickly in ALL other U.S. populations) the United States has less than 10% of the worldwide AIDS cases.

e) The amount of research money geared for AIDS is IN NO WAY adequate for the magnitude of the problem. There have been only three diseases to fit the definition of "plague" in the modern (recorded history) era: Plague itself (agent: Yersinia pestis), Smallpox, and AIDS. Of the three, AIDS will undoubtably kill many more humans.

f) The simian immunodeficiency virus has decimated entire populations of monkeys in various parts of the world, including South America.

g) As far as infectivity goes, for a virus, AIDS is hard to catch. Unfortunately, since it's much harder to detect without a Western blot or ELISA test, it is having a field day with humans.

Last semester over 60% of my patients were HIV-positive. Of that 60%, at least 80% were IV drug users. In many ways I find the "source of AIDS" discussion irrelevant to the issues we must address today. Even IF (and I mean IF) the U.S. government DID "engineer" AIDS (see my previous post) it won't bring anyone back to life. Prevention, treatment, and cure, would seem to be much more important issues to me.

Peace, Bill

P.S. I don't mean to imply that the history of AIDS should not be investigated - it should, for many reasons. I just think much, MUCH more investigation into prevention, treatments, and cures should be held.

Go Back to Shy David's Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Page.