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Nicholas Bennett Wrote:
" The KS association with gays in the early part of the epidemic is to me easily explained by the co-epidemic of HHV8 infection in that sexually- distinct group. KS is also seen at higher CD4 counts than other AIDS- OI's, hence its vastly increased risk of occurance."
"A lower level of immune suppression is required for the virus to cause clinically apparent disease. Of course KS can occur with "normal" CD4 counts, in say those on anti-rejection chemotherapy, but it's all about relative risk."
Let's be honest here. These early gay men had so many immune-compromising behaviors it's just ridiculous to assume that only a putative retrovirus would inhibit their immune system such that they would be susceptible to 'HHV8' (much less all the other std's they were getting). The broad implication here from the established medical community is that drug abuse is not that big of a deal as long as you don't 'get HIV'. I've spoken with enough gay men who thought nitrite inhalants had been cleared by the government as being dangerous so right on snorting they went. You see this all over the place in 'HIV' prevention campaigns. 'Taking x, y, or z drug increases your risk of acquiring HIV infection. Be Careful.' Where are the messages about THE DRUGS THEMSELVES?
As an example, the excerpts below are taken from a Reuters article discussing research by Dr. Grant Colfax of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (12-27-01). This is an important article because it not only demonstrates the level of denial in the medical establishment, but also the level of substance abuse so many gay men who have gotten sick have had.
The Reuters article states:
"He and his colleagues surveyed nearly 300 gay and bisexual men in the San Francisco area. The men answered questions about their drug use and sexual activity during the weekend of a circuit party in San Francisco, an out-of- town circuit party weekend, and two weekends spent in San Francisco without attending a circuit party.'
And what did they find?
"Most of the men reported using at least one recreational drug when attending an out-of-town circuit party, Colfax and his colleagues report, with 80% taking Ecstasy, 66% taking ketamine, 43% crystal methamphetamines, 29% the so- called ''liquid Ecstasy'' GHB, 14% taking the impotence drug Viagra, and 12% taking amyl nitrates, also known as "poppers.''
Please note, many of these men were not limiting themselves to one drug but were on cocktails of the stuff. I know, because I've seen this first hand.
And remember what I said about 'prevention' messages? Dr. Colfax sums things up by saying:
'There needs to be a greater focus within the public health community on the high prevalence of club drug use IN RELATION to high-risk sexual behavior.' [emphasis added]
Note the phrase, 'drug use in relation to high-risk sexual behavior'. We've become so politically correct that we can't come right out and say DRUG ABUSE. The implications here are that drugs are ok, a) as long as you slap a condom on, or b) you don't have sex.
Indeed, even now new 'supersafe sex' campaigns are appearing at huge circuit parties because of the high prevalence of illicit drug abuse. In a recent Advocate.com Health article titled, 'AIDS activist will unveil "supersafe sex" campaign at Palm Springs White Party' we hear more of the same shrill calls for even more condom usage but nowhere is anyone calling out the fact that these chemicals men are poisoning themselves with are slowly taking their bodies down.
For instance, the article states:
" Any 'supervirus' demands super-awareness along with super-safety guidelines," St. Mark states in a press release. He says the message being delivered to gay men at the circuit party event is that "supervirus equals supersafety."
The ridiculous notion here is that the only 'safety' is in using a condom. We hear the same message about Crystal Meth, 'it leads to unsafe sexual practices which lead to HIV infection' yet the real damage is from the drug itself. In other words, if you are doing crystal meth and are masturbating by yourself you are not having safe sex.
As an example, the passage below, taken from an article on thebody.com (perhaps the most mainstream of HIV/AIDS websites) titled, 'Crystal Methamphetamine and HIV -- A Catastrophe', states:
"The physicians at my practice, NorthStar Healthcare in Chicago, are seeing new crystal-related occurrences on a weekly basis. Not uncommonly, well-known patients present themselves with seemingly usual complaints during a normal HIV maintenance visit. However, what develops and emerges in the exam room is an accumulating list of persistent problems and illnesses that never resolve. Eventually it becomes known that the accumulating evils are nothing more than crystal related. Often valuable time is wasted because the patient lied about his abuse problems in the first place. Most everyone on crystal lies about their abuse.
Other common scenarios being observed at our clinic are patients who have been well employed with promising, sophisticated occupations and livelihood lose their job and career, become severely depressed and become burdened with credit card debt. Individuals fail at regaining employment. They become clinically depressed, lose weight and appear to be undergoing complications of wasting or lipodystrophy. Often therapy for wasting and lipodystrophy was unsuccessfully attempted by the naive and unsuspecting physician who did not suspect that crystal was at the root of all the problems."
But let's get back to the original reason for this response, KS and its incidence in early gay men.
Mr. Bennett stated;
'A lower level of immune suppression is required for the virus to cause clinically apparent disease.'
Let's play ball for a minute with Mr. Bennett's assertion that 'HHV8' is the causative factor in KS, but only so when sufficient but not necessarily extreme immune suppression takes place. As I stated before, gay men at the time and since have been exposed to many immune compromising agents. Poppers is but one of them, but for now I'll focus on nitrite inhalants.
Use of Poppers Associated with Immune Suppression and Tumor
From AIDS.org, a report on the same research states:
A new study found that mice injected with cancer cells were more than three
times as likely to develop tumors if they inhaled isobutyl nitrite--"
poppers"--and that when tumors did develop, they grew four times as
rapidly in the inhalant-treated animals. 75% of the mice receiving nitrite
developed the tumors in this test, vs. 21% of the control mice (which received
the same cancer cells but breathed only air instead). The amount of inhalant
used--900 parts per million for 45 minutes a day--was selected to
approximate social use of the drug."
and from a related article on AIDS. org also:
Now another study has found increased bacterial growth, and further
evidence of immune suppression. At a recent meeting in Amsterdam,
researchers reported that isobutyl nitrite inhalation "results in increased
bacterial growth in the lungs and livers of infected mice, suppresses the
ability of mediastinal lymph nodes to respond to antigen-specific stimulation,
and may reduce the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell populations in the mediastinal
lymph nodes after pulmonary infection with Listeria monocytogenes."
Put simply, gay men have been exposed to other agents capable of 'a lower level of immune suppression' which 'is required for the virus to cause clinically apparent disease.' In fact, given that so many of these men were exposed to 'immune suppressing' agents (nitrite inhalants, many other drugs, repeated semen exposure rectally, treatments for stds), they could not have been considered AIDS patients according to the first CDC definition of AIDS.
". . . a disease, at least moderately predictive of a defect in cell-mediated immunity, occurring with no known cause for diminished resistance to that disease" (CDC, 1982b)
It's absurd that a failed cancer researcher needed to postulate a new retrovirus when it was obvious to any casual observer these men were all but killing themselves with self-destructive behaviors.
Mr. Bennett wrote:
" In such a multifactorial disease, no clear-cut on and off " causative" factor can be expected."
If it's 'multifactorial' then what is the role of 'HIV' and 'HHV8' compared to the other 'factors'?
Mr. Bennett wrote:
'aside from demonstrable HHV8 infection...'
determined by another ANTIBODY test...
Mr. Bennett wrote:
" I've previously noted the relatively low rate in Thailand, which I agree is quite different from the Western situation. I agree that something else, some other risk/protective factor is at work, but no solid evidence is out there to suggest what that is."
The 'relatively low rate in Thailand' is like saying Mt. Everest is relatively taller than The Washington Monument. 'Relatively' belies the true nature of the inconsistency here. To be honest here we would need to say the dramatically lower rate in Thailand. And I'll bet this 'protective factor' is the lack of nitrite inhalant use in conjunction with long-term repeated exposure to rectal semen.
It's apparent to me that in this day and age toxicology is unimportant unless a virus steps in and mucks things up. This is the message the gay community has received for the last 25 years. Strap a on condom and you are A-OK. Drug use? Their only danger is in reduced inhibitions which leads to 'unsafe sex' and thus 'HIV infection'. If you go to circuit parties (where they have ambulances on hand for the inevitable overdoses) make sure you pay attention to the 'Supersafe sex' campaigns so you don't 'get infected'.
The medical establishment has quite failed the gay community because their focus has been on a putative retrovirus (oh, and there's the whole AZT poisoning thing) that even by orthodox information is incapable of infecting more than a 'relatively small' number of cells (otherwise Gallo would not have needed to mix the serum from 10 men in order to find enough signals that he would interpret as meaning the presence of a retrovirus).
Competing interests: None declared