Friday, February 7, 2014

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

HIV virus from “reservoirs”

The deadly disease known as AIDS—Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome—was first officially
reported in 1981 from the United States, though most authorities believe that it originated in Africa.
(Some claim that the first case, unrecognized at the time, may have surfaced as early as 1969.) The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS was identified in 1983, and reliable tests for the virus were perfected two years later. The virus is transmitted by exchange of bodily fluids, chiefly via sex, transfusions of infected blood, or sharing contaminated hypodermic needles. There is presently no cure for AIDS, though various drugs retard its advance in some patients. AIDS kills by leaving its victims open to attack by various “opportunistic” diseases that are normally repelled by healthy immune systems. At the end of 2001, the World Health Organization reported that AIDS had killed 24.8 million victims worldwide; another 40 million persons were infected, more than half of them (28.1 million) residing in sub-Saharan Africa.

What is the origin of HIV? Reporter William Carlsen, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, notes that “[i]n the early years of the AIDS epidemic, theories attempting to explain the origin of the disease ranged from the comic to the bizarre: a deadly germ escaped from a secret CIA laboratory; God sent the plague down to punish homosexuals and drug addicts; it came from outer space, riding on the tail of a comet.” Today, the official line traces HIV to a population of African apes that were infected with a similar virus, which somehow jumped the normal “species barrier” to attack human beings. Still unex-plained is the means by which a mutated simian disease suffered by heterosexual black Africans spanned the Atlantic in the 1970s to infect predominantly gay, Caucasian victims in North America. Those yawning gaps in medical knowledge invite sinister speculation, and conspiracy theories are fed by tantalizing bits of evidence from the public (or not-so-public) record.
Scientists hope to be able develop a vaccine to prevent HIV after capturing the most detailed picture yet of a key Aids protein

On June 9, 1969, a high-level biological research administrator for the U.S. Defense Department, Dr.
Donald MacArthur, appeared before a House subcommittee on military appropriations, seeking funds
for a new line of research. “Within five to ten years,” MacArthur testified, “it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which would differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.

Should an enemy develop it, there is little doubt that this is an important area of potential military
technological inferiority in which there is no adequate research program.” Congress funded
MacArthur’s research—and AIDS surfaced in Africa a decade later, during 1977–78. Coincidence?

On July 4, 1984, a New Delhi newspaper called the Patriot published the first accusation that AIDS
was created as a weapon by the U.S. Army. Citing articles from an official army research publication on “natural and artificial influences on the human immune system,” Patriot reporters claimed that scientists from the Army Biological Warfare Laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland (known since 1969 as the National Cancer Institute’s Frederick Cancer Research Facility), scoured Africa to find “a powerful virus that could not be found in Europe or Asia.”

When located, the Patriot claimed that material “was then analyzed at Fort Detrick and the result was the isolation of a virus that causes AIDS.” Army spokesmen branded the Patriot report an example of “infectious propaganda” from RUSSIA, but the story would not die. In 1986, two French-born scientists living in East Germany, Jakob and Lilli Segal, published a pamphlet titled AIDS: USA Home-Made Evil. The document, circulated widely in Europe and Africa, claimed that HIV is a genetically engineered hybrid of the visan virus (source of a brain disease borne by sheep) and a virus dubbed HTLV-I (known as a cause of cancer in white blood cells).

Army denials persisted, but Col. David Huxsoll created further doubt in February 1987 with a public
announcement that “studies at army laboratories have shown that the AIDS virus would be an extremely poor biological warfare agent.” (Huxsoll later denied ever making that statement; the reporter who quoted him maintains that his report was accurate.)

If gays were targeted for a secret biowarfare blitz, how and when did it happen? In 1978, more than 1,000 nonmonogamous gay men received experimental hepatitis B vaccinations at the New York Blood Center in Manhattan, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. The first U.S. cases of AIDS were recorded among New York gays in 1979; by 1985, 64 percent of the original CDC-NIH test group in Manhattan were dying from AIDS. At the same time, two other “new” diseases surfaced among Manhattan homosexuals.

One, a herpes virus now believed to cause Kaposi’s sarcoma (also known as “gay cancer”) is
closely related to a cancer-causing herpes strain studied in U.S. animal research labs a decade before AIDS appeared. The other, an infectious microbe christened Mycoplasma penetrans, attacks the patient’s circulatory and respiratory systems. Its origin remains officially unknown.