Start A Petition

Mutated HIV Suggests New Approach to AIDS

Science & Tech  (tags: research, study, scientists, health, humans, interesting )

- 4112 days ago -
People whose immune systems are uniquely predisposed to hunting down HIV are causing the virus to mutate into a weaker form, suggesting a new tactic for fighting AIDS. A study published yesterday in Public Library of Science Pathogens by scientists at the


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Judy C (83)
Saturday March 22, 2008, 8:39 am
Is HIV the Cause of AIDS?
There is no proof that HIV causes AIDS. In fact, all the epidemiological and microbiological evidence taken together conclusively demonstrates that HIV cannot cause AIDS or any other illness. The concept that AIDS is caused by a virus is not a fact, but a belief that was introduced at a 1984 press conference by Dr. Robert Gallo, a researcher employed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (14)

HIV is a retrovirus, a type of virus studied meticulously during two decades of federal health programs that centered around the search for a cancer virus. The idea of contagious cancer was a popular notion in the 1960s and 70s. Since retroviruses have no cell-killing mechanisms, and cancer is a condition marked by rapid cell growth, this type of virus was considered a viable candidate for the cause of cancer. However, healthy people live in harmony with an uncountable number of harmless retroviruses; some are infectious while others are endogenous, produced by our own DNA. (15) Few, if any, retroviruses have been shown to cause disease in humans.

In the 1980s when the CDC began to direct its attention to AIDS, Gallo and other cancer researchers switched their focus from cancer to the newly identified dilemma called AIDS, and the same government scientists who led the quest for a cancer virus began to search for a virus that could cause AIDS.

On April 23, 1984, Gallo called an international press conference in conjunction with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He used this forum to announce his discovery of a new retrovirus described as "the probable cause of AIDS." Although Gallo presented no evidence to support his tentative assumption, the HHS immediately characterized it as "another miracle of American medicine...the triumph of science over a dreaded disease." (16)

Later that same day, Gallo filed a patent for the antibody test now known as the "AIDS test." By the following day, The New York Times had turned Gallo's proposal into a certainty with front page news of "the virus that causes AIDS," and all funding for research into other possible causes of AIDS came to an abrupt halt. (17)

By announcing his hypothesis to the media without providing substantiating data, Gallo violated a fundamental rule of the scientific process. Researchers must first publish evidence for a hypothesis in a medical or scientific journal, and document the research or experiments that were used to construct it. Experts then examine and debate the hypothesis, and attempt to duplicate the original experiments to confirm or refute the original findings. Any new hypothesis must stand up to the scrutiny of peer review and must be verified by successful experiments before itcan be considered a reasonable theory.

In the case of HIV, Gallo announced an unconfirmed hypothesis to the media who reported his idea as if it were an established fact, inciting government officials to launch new public health policies based on the unsubstantiated notion of an AIDS virus. Some attribute these violations of the scientific process to the atmosphere of terror and desperation that surrounded the notion of an infectious epidemic.

The data Gallo used to construct his HIV/AIDS hypothesis were published several days after his announcement. Rather than supporting his hypothesis, this paper revealed that Gallo was unable to find HIV (actual virus) in more than half of the AIDS patients in his study. (18) While he was able to detect antibodies in most, antibodies alone are not an indication of current infection and are actually an indication of immunity from infection.

His paper also failed to provide a credible explanation as to how a retrovirus could cause AIDS. Gallo suggested that HIV worked by destroying immune cells, but 70 years of medical research had shown that retroviruses are unable to kill cells, and he offered no proof that HIV differed from other harmless retroviruses. In fact, all evidence to date conclusively demonstrates that HIV -- like all retroviruses -- is not cytotoxic.

Jim P (3247)
Saturday March 22, 2008, 1:01 pm
"Williamson and her co-authors say vaccines could eventually be used to guide an individual's immune response so that it encourages the evolution of these less-virulent strains. Such an approach would depart from previous vaccine designs, which have focused on preventing HIV transmission by neutralizing the virus or by training immune cells to attack the virus."

"That approach has yet to succeed, and its epitaph may have been written last year by the FAILURE of Merck's AIDS vaccine, which had been widely seen as the most promising vaccine candidate to date."

TY, Cathryne.

Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in Science & Tech

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.