For some people its April Fool's day all year round 3 April 2003
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Peter J Flegg,
Consultant Physician
Blackpool Victoria Hospital, UK FY3 8NR

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Re: For some people its April Fool's day all year round

It seems that I have joined the ranks of those who have been deliberately misquoted or misinterpreted. Any day now, David Rasnick will be labelling me as a "mainstream HIV dissident". I do not know whether to feel flattered to join the likes of Nancy Padian and other foremost HIV researchers, or angry. Seeing as how Rasnick's letter misquoting me was written on April fool's day, maybe I should take it all with good humour.

Seriously, though, his statment cannot go uncorrected (1st April 2003). Once again he has either failed to comprehend what I have said, or more likely, deliberately reinterpreted it to make it seem as though I have said something which I have not.

To make things absolutley clear, I do not "agree" with him that the Padian study shows no proof of HIV being sexually transmitted. I explicitly stated that "there was a low transmission rate" in her study, and gave two pertinent reasons additional to those provided by Floyd as to why that may have been the case.

Also, nowhere have I said "following infection, an HIV positive individual eventually fights off HIV and is thus unable to spread the infection". I insist Rasnick correct his statement to this effect that I said this. What I have done is to point out that HIV is more efficiently transmitted in the acute phase of primary infection than it is subsequently. There is plenty of data verifying this, both epidemiologically and biologically, and if he wants references I will be glad to provide these. I would however remind Rasnick that HIV is a chronic infection, and the cumulative probability of transmission of virus increases with the duration of exposure. This is the same situation that exists with other latent viral infections.

I am still perplexed as to what the dissidents think about HIV. We are constantly exposed to a chaotic mish-mash of mutually-exclusive theories concerning HIV/AIDS. One moment we are asked to believe there is no such thing as HIV (or antibodies to it), the next that there is but it is totally harmless, then that it causes infection but cannot cause immunodeficiency. What makes matters worse is that the dissidents are so inconsistent that they will shift from one opinion to another whenever it suits their argument. We thus have the schizophrenic spectacle of someone like Rasnick championing the concept that HIV antibody tests are meaningless, and then to go on to claim that antibodies to HIV indicate immunity to it. Or someone like Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos asserting that HIV does not exist, only to claim later that it spreads through anal intercourse.

Rasnick seems to imply (note I make no assumptions, since dissidents can mean several things at the same time!) that HIV exists, since he says it is a virus that causes acute infection that is eliminated by the immune system, leaving people immunised against it. For his information, with chronic latent infections, possession of antibodies does not mean elimination of the agent and subsequent immunity to its effects. If it did, this would require a immunological rethink would shake the world of biological sciences to its core. However, his novel concept may come as welcome news to all those patients with chronic viral infections such as hepatitis B and C, Herpes simplex, HTLV-1, CMV, EBV, etc. as well as all those with untreated bacterial and parasitic infections such as borrelia, brucella, syphilis, toxoplasma, malaria, leishmania, bilharzia, etc. They can all relax, they have antibodies! They are immune and have eliminated their infections forever!

Competing interests:   None declared