Saturday, November 19, 2005

AIDS and Africa

This column raises what I consider to be an important point.

There has been a lot of controversy over the years as to whether or not HIV causes AIDS, with respectable opinion usualy staying on the HIV does cause AIDS side. But what if this is the wrong question, and the real question is, how many cases of "AIDS" are really cases of AIDS?

In other words, let's assume that HIV is the cause of AIDS (which I firmly believe) and that we have proven that the long-term effect of HIV infection is AIDS. This does not mean that (a) everyone with HIV and other health problems has those other health problems because of the HIV, or (b) everyone displaying a weakened immune system has AIDS.

This is not so much a concern in the U.S., because we have the means to track the progress of HIV infection, and thus to tell whether or not a person's lowered immunity correlates at all with an increase in HIV. However, in countries such as Africa, the diagnosis is often made without any HIV-antibody tests, suggesting that a lot of Africans with "AIDS" could be ebing misdiagnosed.

This would be one explanation for the high rate of AIDS diagnoses in Africa, despite the fact that in the U.S., the disease is mostly restricted to IV drug users and homosexual/bisexual males. (Michael Fumento has another explanation here).

In any case, we ought to be careful how we define AIDS; an ever-expanding definition will increasingly snare people who have immune dysfunction for other reasons, and thus give creedence to the Peter Duesbergs of the world, and therfore make things more difficult for people with genuine AIDS.

That is all.

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