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Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos & Valendar Turner
Rethinking AIDS Jan. 1995

According to the World Health Organization, some 2.5 million Sub-Saharan Africans have AIDS-Africa is apparently in the grip of an AIDS pandemic. (In the USA 300,000 people have been listed as AIDS cases.) AIDS in Africa is portrayed as providing two important lessons for the West. The first is an example of the potential devastation that AIDS can unleash; the second is that by heterosexual spread, AIDS will eventually overtake the West. However, there is no convincing evidence that millions of Africans are infected with HIV, the putative cause of AIDS, or that African AIDS is heterosexually spread.

The only evidence that some Africans are "infected" with a virus called HIV is indirect, being based on the random testing of Africans' blood for the presence of antibodies that react with a collection of so-called HIV proteins. If the "HIV proteins" (present in the test kits) only reacted with HIV antibodies there would be no problem. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Antibodies produced in response to the presence of one foreign agent may also react with another different foreign agent; and the more infectious agents that a person has been exposed to, the greater is the likelihood that such cross-reacting antibodies will be present. Ruling out cross-reactions between "HIV proteins" and the plethora of other antibodies present in individuals who are constantly exposed to microbial agents, can only be achieved by determining how good a match there is between the antibody reactions and the presence or absence of pure HIV itself. In other words, an isolated viral preparation of known purity must be used as a "gold standard" for the antibody reactions. This has never been done, either in Africa or in the West. Thus in Africa, no one knows whether the antibody tests are specific for HIV, that is, whether a positive test actually means HIV infection. Many experts on African AIDS accepted this fact even at the beginning of the AIDS era. Earlier this year, Myron Essex, a leading American researcher and his colleagues from Harvard University, when discussing their experimental data on HIV antibody testing in Africa, again warned that the HIV antibody tests "may not be sufficient for HIV diagnosis in AIDS-endemic areas of Central Africa where the prevalence of mycobacterial diseases [leprosy and tuberculosis and others, whose antibodies cross-react] is quite high". Thus, in Africa there is no certainty that Africans are actually infected with a putative new agent, HIV. AIDS experts also agree that acquired immune deficiency (the "AID" in AIDS) is also long standing in Africa. Immune deficiency can be caused by malnutrition, certain viral infections, and diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, all of which are known to exert a major depressant action on the immune system.

Unlike the West, AIDS in Africa is diagnosed without any laboratory tests. Patients are classified as AIDS cases without laboratory proof that they have either immunodeficiency or HIV infection. All that is required is to have various clinical conditions. But the conditions accepted as forming the "S"(syndrome) of "AIDS" in Africa bear no relationship to AIDS in the West. In the West, AIDS is diagnosed if a person has one or more of approximately 27 relatively rare diseases.

However in Africa, AIDS is diagnosed according to the World Health Organization's 1986/87 Bangui" definitions that can best be described as a collage of common non-specific symptoms, such as cough, fever, diarrhea, tuberculosis (TB) and a cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma. Every one of these diseases have been endemic in Africa for generations.

Kaposi's sarcoma, for example, was described in the Ebers papyrus dating from 1600 BC. (In the West, Kaposi's sarcoma is restricted to gay men.) Of the 661 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, 2-3 million have active TB with an annual mortality of 790,000. Despite this and the fact that in adults, "HIV infection" usually follows TB infection, TB has now become an AIDS defining illness. In fact, 30-50% of African "AIDS" deaths are from TB. In spite of all this, AIDS experts expect that we should accept that something "new" is afoot in Africa and that it is caused by a new agent, HIV. Suddenly, a new disease, caused by a new agent has appeared. The old diseases and their deleterious effects on the immune system are no longer operative.

Many AIDS experts also expect us to believe that unlike the story in the West, in Africa AIDS is spread predominantly by heterosexual contact. Indeed, since the number of heterosexual cases in the West is too small to be statistically meaningful, the African "evidence" is used to forecast the same predicament in the West. The claim of heterosexual spread in Africa is based on absence of "evidence of homosexual transmission or intravenous drugs" and the approximately equal numbers of males and females who have AIDS as well as positive antibody tests. The latter certainly does not prove that AIDS is heterosexually spread-influenza and appendicitis also have an equal sex distribution.

Given the fact that positive HIV antibody tests may be due to the presence of antibodies formed in response to malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy and many parasitic diseases it is not surprising that an equal number of men and women will be diagnosed as "AIDS" according to centuries-old symptoms and have a positive antibody test.

In any case, the theory that AIDS in Africa is transmitted heterosexually creates more problems for the HIV theory of AIDS than it solves. A disease is said to be caused by a sexually transmitted infectious agent if one infected partner, say the active partner (man) transmits the agent/disease to the passive partner (woman), who in turn transmits the agent/disease to another man. That is, heterosexually transmitted diseases are transmitted bidirectionally, from men to women to men. In the West, the largest (thousands of cases) and most judiciously conducted prospective epidemiological studies have proven beyond all reasonable doubt that in both men and women the only sexual act leading to the acquisition of "HIV antibodies"(women) or "HIV antibodies" and eventual AIDS (gay men) is passive (receptive) anal intercourse. In other words, in the West, "HIV antibodies" and AIDS, like pregnancy, can only be acquired by the passive partner. If, unlike pregnancy, the "HIV antibodies" and AIDS are not caused by a non-infectious agent (sperm, semen) but by HIV, then HIV will be the only unidirectionally sexually transmitted infectious agent. The active partner will have to acquire HIV by other means. This is strange enough: in the whole history of Medicine there has never been a sexually transmitted agent/disease which is spread unidirectionally in the West and bidirectionally (heterosexually) in Africa.

The only other alternative to this ludicrous scenario is to agree with African physicians that positive HIV antibody tests in Africa do NOT mean infection with HIV and that immunosuppression and certain symptoms and diseases which constitute African AIDS have existed in Africa since time immemorial. According to Professor P.A.K. Addy, Head of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana:

"Europeans and Americans came to Africa with prejudiced minds, so they are seeing what they wanted to see...I've known for a long time that AIDS is not a crisis in Africa as the world is being made to understand. But in Africa it is very difficult to stick your neck out and say certain things. The West came out with those frightening statistics on AIDS in Africa because it was unaware of certain social and clinical conditions. In most of Africa, infectious diseases, particularly parasitic infections, are common. And there are other conditions that can easily compromise or affect one's immune system."

Dr. Konotey-Ahulu from the Cromwell Hospital in London expresses a similar view: "Today, because of AIDS, it seems that Africans are not allowed to die from these conditions [from which they used to die before the AIDS era] any longer. If tens of thousands are dying from AIDS (and Africans do not cremate their dead) where are the graves?" According to him, the uppermost question in the minds of intelligent Africans and Europeans in that continent is: "Why do the world's media appear to have conspired with some scientists to become so gratuitously extravagant with the untruth?"

Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos is a member of the Department of Medical Physics and Valendar F. Turner, is in the Department of Emergency Medicine, at the Royal Perth Hospital, Wellington Street, Perth 6000, Western Australia.


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