Re: The Perth Group answer to Christopher Noble 5 September 2003
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Brian T Foley,
HIV Researcher
Los Alamos National Lab, Los Alamos, NM USA 87545

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Re: Re: The Perth Group answer to Christopher Noble

The Perth group wrote
"While the present dissimilarities in the "HIV-1" genome appeared at the time of its transmission to humans (a few decades ago), the present dissimilarities in the HPV types existed since the ancient times. While the "HPV genotypes are quite stable over both time and space", there is "an extraordinary scale of HIV variation" both in time and space (5). "

This is not correct. The diversity in HIV-1 M group sequences did not spontaneously appear at the the time of the alleged transmission from chimpanzee to humans. It accumulated over time since the transmission. Likewise, the diversity in the HPVs (which evolve at a rate at least a hundred thousand-fold slower than retroviruses) did not exist since ancient times, it has accumulated over time.

What point is the Perth group trying to make? Yes, lentiviruses are retroviruses with error-prone replication, so they evolve faster than DNA viruses. Is that supposed to prove that they can't exist?

The Perth group wrote:
"While "HIV-1" (all groups) is said to always cause a fatal syndrome, AIDS, in all infected individuals, only "a small fraction" of the HPV types are associated with "disease burden"."

Again they are mistaken. No virus (with the near exception of some strains of rabies virus) ever kills 100% of the hosts that it infects. Nobody has ever presented any scientific evidence that HIV-1 can or does kill all infected people. It may be true that somebody said this, but it is not a true statement.

But again, what point is being made? Some viruses are more pathogenic than others. Does this mean that they can't exist?

Competing interests:   None declared