HIV/ AIDS FACTS...and need to know


Grab a dictionary and read slowly, this clearly explains the deadly Human Immunodeficiency Virus

By: Dr. Carlton Fraser

aids_front_big.jpgThe Virus: Its History and Definition
The history of viruses probably began about 1886 when the Dutch chemist Adolf Mayer revealed that it was possible to transfer the tobacco mosaic disease from an affected plant to a healthy plant. In the past (1882) he had described the phenomenon as "a soluble, possible enzyme-like contagium" but by 1886 he had altered his opinion and reported that it is "bacterial, but that the infectious forms have not yet been isolated, nor are their forms of life known..."

Subsequently (1892) the Russian bacteriologist Dmitri Ivanovsky failed in his attempts to isolate the infectious agent by use of filtering and it was left to Dutch botanist Martinus Beijerink to voice the observation that the behavior, of the seemingly elusive causative agent, was different from that of bacteria. He fittingly coined the definition 'contagium vivum fluidum' or 'virus(es)' - the Latin for poison.

In and about 1935 two interesting events occurred that contributed immensely to our clinical understanding of virology. One was the American chemist Wendel M. Stanley isolating the tobacco mosaic virus and the other was the invention of an electron microscope which made viruses visible for the first time.

At approximately the same time (19th-20th Century) Leoffler and Frosch discovered foot and mouth disease virus. Almost immediately was the discovery of the first human disease- causing virus, yellow fever virus. By the end of the 1930's tumor viruses, bacteriophages, influenza viruses, mumps and many arboviruses had been identified. Since then and to the present, the discovery and isolation of viruses have intensified with the human immunodeficiency (HIV) and human T-cell lymphotropic viruses listed among the more recent (of the human disease-causing viruses).

Viruses are parasites too small to be seen by even a microscope, that can be found in all types of organisms. They can only reproduce with the help or indirect assistance of the host cell in which they reside. As a result of their inability to self replicate and their inert status outside the living host cell, they are not considered as living organisms. However, viral intercellular entry instantly activates the viral nucleic acids and viral multiplication results. Viruses have few or no enzymes of their own metabolism. To replicate, viruses must seize the metabolic machinery of the host cell.
Acquired immunity is essentially the protection an organism develops against specific types of microbes on foreign substances. When the human immune system recognizes a foreign substance- the provoked response is production of antibodies and specialized lymphocytes (white blood cells). An insufficient response results in varied deficiencies and many viruses are capable of infecting and killing lymphocytes thus lowering the response.

Discovery - Clinical Recognition
AIDS is an immune system disorder in which the body's ability to adequately defend itself is circumstantially diminished. When the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) invades certain white blood cells named T-Lymphocytes and multiples, it creates a systematic breakdown of the immune system, eventually leading to overwhelming damage and the production of chemicals and messenger molecules that kill the invading foreign material(s). The protective limits of the body represent those areas that come in contact with the external environment through: the skin, mucous membranes of the mouth, genitals, nose and eyes the lung linings and so on.

Disruption of this defensive system or alteration in cellular membrane can cause invasion which will precipitate immediate activation of the immune complex. Immune cells are highly reactive metabolically and they exhibit a high turnover. A vigilant immune system is critical to the prevention of infection by viruses, fungi and bacteria and will even deactivate disfigured cancer cells (which form regularly) before they can become malignant disease states which can be fatal. Deaths among people with AIDS are not caused by AIDS itself, but by one of the many infections or cancers to which the syndrome makes the body vulnerable.

Origin of Virus/ Etiology
The origin of the HIV is probably the most controversial and most debated subject in the medical community and in society in general. At the 1996 Eighth Annual Houston Conference on AIDS in America, Howard B. Urnovitz, M.D, a microbiologist, challenged medical science to prove wrong his theory that the human immunodeficiency virus Type-1 (HIV-1) is a monkey-human hybrid that was created after 300,000 Africans were injected between 1957 and 1959 with quantities of experimental live oral polio vaccines contaminated with different monkey viruses. A similar stance was taken by journalist Edward Hooper in his book 'The River: Journey to the source of AIDS' in which he links the onset of AIDS to a mass polio vaccination in the 1950's when many Africans were injected with an experimental vaccine derived from monkey organs. In 1998 the media alerted the public to further evidence that AIDS started in Africa.
The proof consisted of an old (1959) stored frozen blood specimen discovered to be HIV positive. Researchers claimed that the tiny amount of serum contained fragments of HIV 'closely mated' to a virus found in the chimpanzees in the African wild and was in the frozen remains of a chimp named Marilyn, discovered in a freezer at the Fort Detrick biodefense laboratory. The 1959 specimen-obtained from a Bantu man living in Kinshasa, the Congo - was later heralded 'the worlds oldest HIV-positive blood sample.'

In October 2000 the Royal Society of London held a two day conference on the origins of HIV. A single declaration was "all human infectious diseases have an animal origin." However this only helped to ignite the debate as Boyd E. Graves discusses it in his book, 'State Origin: the evidence of the Laboratory Birth of AIDS.' He states that the true history of the origin of AIDS can be traced throughout the 20th Century and back to 1878. On April 29th of that year the United States passed a 'Federal Quarantine Act.' The U.S began a significant effort to investigate 'causes' of epidemic diseases. In 1887 the effort was enhanced with the mandate of the 'U.S. Laboratory of Hygiene.' This lab was run by Dr. Joseph Kinyoun. Two years later (1889) we were able to identify mycoplasmas – a transmissible agent that is now found at the heart of human diseases including HIV/AIDS.

But did science create a genetic genocide machine? Dr. William Campbell Douglas (M.D.) wrote that HIV was finally produced or genetically engineered in 1974. In his report 'WHO murdered Africa', he tells us that the AIDS virus produced by the WHO (World Health Organization) was not just a diabolical scientific exercise that got out of hand, he said, "It...was a successful attempt to create a killer virus which was then used successfully in Africa. African AIDS was the result of the small pox eradication vaccine program conducted by WHO during the 1970's."

At the Royal Society's conference (2000) Dr. Kevin De Cock of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta Georgia criticized both theories. He expounded on the epidemiological principles required to ascertain the true origins of HIV, describing Hooper's book, 'The River: Journey to the source of AIDS,' that proposes an ecologic association between contaminated OPV (oral polio vaccine) and the emergence of HIV, as hypothetical discourse relying on data that indicated noticeable bias and irregularities of association in their assembly. De Cock was also critical of attempted analysis of SIV (simian[monkey] immunodeficiency virus) distribution among the chimpanzees in Central Africa as epidemiologically irrelevant to understanding what took place in the past, just as current HIV prevalence tells us nothing about the date of HIV's emergence in a population.

Dr. Leopold Zekeng of the Cameroon Laboratorie de Sante Hygiene Mobile reviewed HIV and SIV infections in Cameroon and the theory that monkey- hunting Pygmy tribes in the region might have been the vectors for the transfer of HIV from chimps to the wider population. Zekeng and his colleagues investigated HIV prevalence among two Pygmy tribes and found that HIV was lower than within the predominant Bantu and strongly linked to contact with urban centers suggesting that the theory that Pygmy hunters have acted as a bridge for HIV into the human population is probably fallacy.

In 1981 AIDS was identified as a new syndrome and the sudden appearance of epidemics of previously rare diseases such as Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia were recognized as a single syndrome due to their relation to immunosuppression. The people believed to be mostly affected at that time were homosexual men, indicating the AIDS epidemic might be caused by an infectious agent. Also, haemophiliacs, transfusion recipients and intravenous drug abusers appeared to be a high risk of developing the disorder, thus implicating a blood borne infectious agent as the causative element. CD4+ and T-cells were seen as the elements most likely involved in AIDS; the theory that AIDS was most likely due to a new human T-trophic retrovirus was proposed in 1982. The identification of a human retrovirus [human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV- I)] as the etiologic agent of AIDS soon followed.

To be continued
Part II - Will discuss stages, testing and current infection rates