I was born in Malawi, one of the countries supposedly hardest hit by “AIDS”, and even though I have only dreams of my early months under the African sun, they are always wonderfully warm and pleasant. Thus I have naturally long been curious about AIDS in Africa, and have often wondered about the dramatically different epidemiology and disease manifestation that were reported to be occurring in North America and Europe versus that seen in Africa. I assumed for many years that this was part of the “vast mystery of HIV” that science would some day explain.
One of the major reasons I began to work on mathematical modeling of HIV infection (other than my love for applied mathematics and a lifelong interest in the pathology of disease) was because there were questions about HIV and AIDS that really bothered me: Why do some people live so much longer with an HIV-positive diagnosis than do others? Why is it so difficult to produce a vaccine? -- among the more obvious ones. And so I entered the world of HIV research in the hopes that I would uncover at least partial answers to at least some of my questions. Instead, I encountered contradictory models, nonsensical data, inconsistent conclusions, and intensely confused scientists – and I came to the realization that what was mysterious and paradoxical was not the virus itself, but rather the entire virus theory. The scientific questions that remain unanswered are disturbing, but what is even more disturbing is the foundation of racism and prejudice on which the HIV hypothesis is built.
To understand the sociological motivations behind the HIV/AIDS paradigm, one must understand the racism and homophobia that have persisted in western societies for centuries. It is only very recently in the timeline of history that gays and blacks have been accorded equal rights under the law—rights that Caucasians and heterosexuals have long enjoyed. To understand the inherent prejudice behind the very definition of “AIDS”, one needs only to consider the official party line: “AIDS” infected humans when Africans consumed or did strange things with monkeys, and it has been spread throughout the world by gay men and sexually promiscuous, prostitute-visiting black Africans.
This ridiculous concept is utterly empty—the evidence for an African origin for HIV, much less AIDS, is essentially non-existent, and what there is is based entirely on the hypothesis that Africans have been doing bizarre and obscene things with monkeys that permitted not one but two distinct retroviruses, HIV-1 and HIV-2, to emerge and begin to cause massive immune deficiency the likes of which has never before been caused by a single—let alone two distinct—infectious agents. For this improbable enough scenario to even approximate a possible reality, these two “new” retroviruses in humans would have to be pretty new in monkeys, too, since nothing has changed regarding how Africans relate to monkeys in the last forty or so years, and logically, such a zoonotic jump, if it were possible, should have happened long ago. So if this were even partially so, AIDS ought to have existed in Africa significantly before it existed in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, rather than after (1983), which is what happened.
For the current interpretation of the HIV/AIDS dogma to be true, we must somehow accept that either people of African descent are many times more genetically susceptible to “HIV infection”, or else that they are many orders of magnitude more promiscuous than are people in any other racial category. Neither of these ideas bears up under scrutiny, however. An analysis of HIV tests from the past twenty years shows that the predisposition of African-Americans to test HIV-positive is far more likely to be a result of biased test interpretation, as well as a reflection of inherent, hereditary differences than it is to be a result of anything related to behavior. The distribution of HIV-positive results among those of African descent is too consistent across the risk groups to be the consequence of behavior (or even a combination of behavior and predisposition to infection). More damning, however, to the concept that HIV somehow spreads more effectively among heterosexuals in Africa than in the West is the fact that in all studies that attempt to determine transmission rates, said rates are no different in Africa than anywhere else – in every study, constant per-contact infectivity through unprotected heterosexual sex is on the order of 1 per 1000. Clearly, such transmission rates, no matter how one interprets the odds ratio, are not sufficient to sustain a heterosexual epidemic anywhere in the world.
So what is going on? Why on earth have we been so quick to accept the concept of a virus that causes different diseases in different risk groups and even in different countries; a virus that is somehow transmitted far, far more efficiently if you happen to be brown-skinned?
Scientists jumped to such conclusions despite a lack of hard evidence, and the media and the public accepted them awfully easily. Would this have happened if the first five AIDS patients had been heterosexuals in the prime of their lives? Would this still be happening if we were not being fed the hypothesis that Africans and African-Americans are somehow, mysteriously, more “susceptible” to HIV than are Asians and Caucasians? I wonder.
The first five men with AIDS were not sexually involved with one another, so why was a sexually transmitted cause considered to be so likely? And of Robert Gallo’s cohort of seventy-two homosexuals with AIDS, only twenty-six had any trace of HIV. Yet somehow HIV (and therefore AIDS) was considered sexually transmittable. This conclusion was arrived at not by the traditional method of proving an infection is indeed an STI, which involves microbial isolation and contact tracing, but rather by simply assuming sexual transmission. Laboratory studies of “HIV,” in which researchers do experiments showing things like “HIV” not being able to penetrate latex or “HIV” being able to infect monkeys when rectally injected, do not use pure HIV particles at all, but rather molecular biology experiments consisting of combinations of proteins that trigger an antibody reaction. So how do we know anything about what HIV really does, where it came from, and even what it is? And even more fundamentally, how do we know what AIDS itself is, when its presentation and even its very definition have become so amorphous that no-one is in possession of all the facts?
The answer is: we don’t, anymore than we did back in 1984. Despite the fact that other viruses (cytomegalovirus and herpes virus, to give just two examples) were far more prevalent in AIDS patients than HIV ever was, the HIV train started rolling and hasn’t lost momentum since, and this one retrovirus became inextricably wound up in a complex, hard-to-grasp syndrome of immune deficiency which simple logic ought to tell us cannot possibly have a single cause.
What has the HIV hypothesis accomplished? More than twenty years after a cure for AIDS was promised to have arrived, there is none, and there likely never will be a vaccine. A massive industry has been built around T-cell testing, viral load testing, antibody testing, and drug development. Drugs have been developed to lower viral load and drugs have been developed to alleviate the sometimes horrific effects of the primary drugs. An entire plastic surgery industry has been put into place to mask the loss and redistribution of fat caused by the drugs. Now, pressure is on to distribute these drugs to those who need them far less than they need clean living conditions and adequate nutrition.
It seems I never stop crying for my Beloved Country, too.
Rebecca V. Culshaw worked on mathematical models of HIV infection for almost ten years. She received her Ph.D. in mathematics (with a specialization in mathematical biology) from Dalhousie University in Canada in 2002 and is currently an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Tyler. She is a celebrated internet author as a result of her writings on Lew Rockwell, and "Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?", a book based on those essays is due this December. (Hank)
Note: Because Dr. C. is such a popular personality, we expect that readers will have many comments and questions they might wish to address to her. Send them to me, and I will pass on my choice (anonified), and any that she chooses to answer we will publish under a new occasional column called, Dear Dr. Culshaw. Look for it ! (HB)