HIV LURK IN YOUR LYMPH NODES?
By Bryan J. Ellison
Rethinking AIDS April 1993
24 issue of the London Times featured a commentary by John
Maddox, editor of Nature, who apparently wanted to vent
some steam. He bitterly attacked Peter Duesberg for "the
perverse but seductive theory that the HIV virus does not cause
Aids at all...The truth is the opposite. The real deception is
the alternative theory that HIV has nothing to do with Aids."
According to Maddox, Duesberg has now been solidly refuted by
the finding of active HIV replication in the Lymph nodes of infected
patients, even during the ten-year and growing latent period of
AIDS. In ominous tones, Maddox revealed his personal desire to
have science abandon its tradition of skeptical inquiry: "Heterodox
opinions in science are allowable, and sometimes even productive.
But it is another question whether those who use them to offer
false [sic] hope to those with HIV infection in the face
of all the evidence can be held to be acting ethically."
particularly referring to a set of papers published during the preceding
week. The most oft-cited of these, authored by AIDS mogul Anthony
Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, appeared in the March
25 Nature. Fauci reports having used the polymerase chain
reaction (PCR) to count the number of HIV-infected T cells, as well
as checking directly for cell-free virus particles. He compared
the results from circulating blood against those from Lymph node
tissues. What did he find?
the miraculous properties of HIV, Fauci got down to brass tacks:
"....a burst of viremia....a prolonged period....little, if
any....very low....extremely difficult.... active....associated....
may be related....striking differences.... consistently observed....high
levels.... increased....clearly lower....striking dichotomy....high
levels....replicates actively.... active and progressive...."
But virtually no numbers! Although trying to imply he found large
amounts of the virus, Fauci inadvertently demonstrated through such
colorful language his disappointing results. Indeed, he hid his
only relevant statistics in the caption to figure 1, showing that
HIV infected only about 1/100 to 1/10,000 CD4+ T cells, even in
the Lymph nodes. And this assay did not distinguish between cells
containing active or dormant HIV.
other contribution in this paper was the confirmation of existing
textbook knowledge on the workings of the immune system. He correctly
recalled that "an initially adequate immune response itself
also contributes substantially to the clearance of virus from the
circulation. In the late stages of disease [AIDS], these mechanical
mechanisms are altered and an effective immune response against
HIV is lost, leading to an increase in viral burden in [blood cells]."
In other words, HIV is really just an opportunistic infection sometimes
unleashed after the immune system has been suppressed. In
order to eliminate any invading virus, the immune system coats it
with antibodies, thereby immobilizing the offending germs; the neutralized
agents are then filtered out in-you guessed it-the Lymph nodes,
where they are destroyed. Fauci also acknowledged this "virus-trapping
capability of the node," and his paper reported that the only
virus particles he could find in Lymph tissues were "coated
with proteins," i.e., antibodies. These were viruses caught
in the process of being digested. Furthermore, he does not report
the actual numbers of such neutralized virus particles, presumably
meaning he found very few.
Duesberg stands confirmed, although Fauci's own logic seems to be
lost on himself. Fauci gave his data a topsy-turvy interpretation,
concluding that HIV was being produced in the Lymph nodes and released
to the blood.
more competent report appeared in Science on March 19. A
collaborative project between Genelabs Technologies of California
and the University of Alabama, the study provided hard numbers in
another attempt to refute Duesberg. But all that hard work merely
proved his point.
used quantitative PCR to measure levels of actual HIV expression
in the blood, in which it also examined amounts of p24 antigen (a
protein contained in HIV particles) and even infectious virus itself.
The study purported to show high levels of HIV shortly after infection,
followed by its suppression during the latent period and subsequent
reactivation when the patient reaches terminal AIDS. Was HIV the
marauding criminal or a harmless opportunist?
First of all,
the PCR and p24 data showed at best a poor correlation with the
actual number of virus particles. Patients registering high on these
molecular assays often had very little HIV, and vice versa. Thus
only direct measurements of the virus are useful, a point well worth
remembering for many other papers that have used such artifact-prone
methods to claim high levels of HIV in the body.
new study revealed a complete absence of HIV while the patient's
T cell counts drop. Of the thirty-two HIV-infected subjects with
no symptoms or early stages of AIDS, having CD4+ T cell counts ranging
from 231 to 1080, twenty-eight had no virus whatsoever, while in
the remaining four it was barely detectable. The virus is simply
not around while the immune system undergoes most of its destruction.
virus was inconsistently reactivated in patients with full-blown
clinical AIDS or T cell counts below 200. Of these twenty-eight
cases, six had no virus at all. Only six others had greater than
one thousand virus particles per milliliter of blood, and only two
of those reached a high of 100,000 particles per milliliter. This
was an incredible spread of values, meaning that the virus could
return from latency only in a percentage of patients whose immune
systems had already been destroyed. Had HIV done the damage, it
would have been found all along, in all individuals, in extremely
large amounts. Only the two patients with the highest levels of
the virus might have qualified; the other twenty-six did not. The
verdict: HIV is merely a sporadic opportunistic infection.
The fact that
these authors were able to find several patients with detectable
HIV, which contradicts most other studies showing only a tiny fraction
of infected people with infectious particles, strongly implies that
this group of patients had been carefully selected at the start.
The report failed to describe what risk group they fall into, nor
how they were chosen. In any case, the established scientific literature
shows that the great majority of AIDS patients have no active virus
paper not only refused to draw the logical conclusions from
its own data, but tragically also tried to reestablish the credibility
of AZT therapy. Several patients were started on this toxic chemotherapy
and re-tested for HIV; virus levels sharply decreased in each person.
The authors ignore the probability that the virus decreased simply
because the cells it infects were being killed by the AZT. Their
paper does not provide T cell counts on any patient save one, who
experienced "a subsequent progressive decline to 128 [CD4+
T cells] per cubic millimeter and clinical progression to CDC stage
IVC2 [full-blown AIDS]." Ironically, the authors only commented
that this occurred "despite anti viral therapy."
If Maddox is
an honest scientist and re-reads these studies carefully, he will
have to sign on with the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of
the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis. We're waiting.*