HEAL London

Health Education and AIDS Liaison - a more intelligent approach

Bad HIV/AIDS science

Incompetence and corruption in claims of immunosuppression

cd4 cellsA 1998 article in Behavioural Ecology recently brought to HEAL London's attention has shed more light on both the incompetence of AIDS researchers in their claims to be able to measure immune system suppression due to HIV, and also blatant fraud in claiming that only HIV causes the drop in CD4 cells that is then labelled as 'AIDS'. In questioning whether or not testosterone has an immunosuppressive effect, the article points instead to immune system cell redistribution or relocation as the mechanism. A key section of the article of particular interest to HEAL London members says:

The immunoredistribution alternative

New insights into the immune response to stress offer an alternative explanation for the correlation between high levels of testosterone and changes in the immune system. We propose that leukocytes are temporarily shunted to different compartments of the immune system in response to testosterone, as they are in response to other steroids. This process, called immunoredistribution, would be easy to confuse with immunosuppression if immunity is assessed by leukocyte counts or if the measure of immunity is sampled at only one time or in only one tissue.

Unlike immunosuppression, redistribution is a temporary shifting of immune cells to compartments where they are likely to be more useful. This is far more than a semantic distinction. Immunosuppression implies that there is a single immune system which is inhibited from acting throughout the body and that lower cell counts result from elimination or reduced production of immune cells. Immunoredistribution is a quickly reversible relocation of immune cells to sites where they are most likely to be useful but perhaps less likely to be detected by researchers. Immunoredistribution is a well-documented response to stress and the associated elevation in circulating corticosteroids.

Stress and immunosuppression

Although stress-induced immunosuppression is assumed to be a common phenomenon, there are a number of systematic problems with the evidence and interpretation of it. First, Keller et al. (1992) point out that few of the studies that describe inhibition of immune cell function controlled for changes in the proportions of different types of immune cells, and thus may not have been measuring inhibition at all. Equally important is the empirical evidence that the endocrine and immune responses to stress are complex and depend on a number of factors, including the sex ratio and social composition of the group under study (Sapolsky, 1986; Taylor et al., 1987). These factors are typically not controlled or taken into account. When they have been controlled, no suppression of immune cell activity was found (Klein et al., 1992). In addition, acute and chronic triggers are often lumped together. Despite these problems and the fact that responses may differ in different species, we do not question the evidence of suppression of immune cell activity under pharmacological doses of steroids. However, these examples only demonstrate that the activity of immune cells can be artificially suppressed, not that suppression is a normal physiological response to corticosteroids or testosterone.

Stress and immunoredistribution

Immunoredistribution is an alternative explanation for the apparent immunosuppressive effect of stress. Environmental stress and social stress are both known to increase the level of circulating corticosteroids which in turn affect the immune system (Harbuz and Lightman, 1992; Morrow-Tesch et al., 1994; Taylor et al., 1987). This common mechanism is due to activation of the hypothalamus-hypophysis-adrenal axis. In response to the elevated corticosteroid levels, leukocytes exit peripheral blood circulation and enter lymph nodes, skin, and other tissues where they are well positioned to combat challenges from new trauma (Dhabhar, 1998; Dhabhar and McEwen, 1996). Circulating leukocytes then return to normal levels within a few hours after the stress ceases (Dhabhar et al., 1995).

Dhabhar has provided the clearest demonstration that temporary immunoredistribution associated with stress is triggered by corticosteroids (Dhabhar, 1998; Dhabhar and McEwen, 1996, 1997; Dhabhar et al., 1994, 1995, 1996), but the phenomenon of immunoredistribution has been recognized as an important trade-off response for at least the past 25 years. Fauci (1975) had already shown that corticosteroid treatment in guinea pigs leads to a temporary lowering of lymphocytes in peripheral circulation as they migrate to bone marrow. Chung et al. (1986) further showed that glucocorticosteroids in mice cause lymphocytes to migrate to peripheral lymph nodes and bone marrow. In fact, the temporary redistribution of various leukocytes in response to hormone stimulation is well documented (Claman, 1972; Cohen, 1972; Dhabhar, 1998; Dhabhar and McEwen, 1996, 1997; Dhabhar et al., 1994, 1995, 1996; Fauci and Dale, 1974; Gross, 1990; Landmann et al., 1984; Lundin and Hedman, 1978; Moorhead and Claman, 1972; Schedlowski et al., 1993; Spry, 1972) and can even be traced back to Dougherty and White (1944).

- Extracted from Braude S, Tang-Martinez Z, Taylor GT, 1999. Stress, testosterone, and the immunoredistribution hypothesis. Behav Ecol 10:345–350.

In other words, there is ample research evidence that measuring various immune system parameters, such as CD4 cells or CD4/CD8 ratios in peripheral blood is a wholly unsuitable way of giving a definitive value as to the strength or effectiveness of the immune system. It also highlights significant evidence that psychological stress alone by at least one recognised biological mechanism can cause redistribution of some components of the immune system to where the body perceives they may be most likely to be needed - eg, in anticipation of potential physical harm resulting from a fight for instance, to take a step back to the stone age. As they say, "Immunoredistribution is a quickly reversible relocation of immune cells to sites where they are most likely to be useful but perhaps less likely to be detected by researchers. Immunoredistribution is a well-documented response to stress and the associated elevation in circulating corticosteroids".

So those of you who feel anxious about going to get your CD4 cells measured on your regular trips to the AIDS doctor - well, that's why they've gone down. And the more anxious you get, the more they'll go down. So if you were anxious last time perhaps because it's now - let's say - seven years since you were diagnosed and the doctor is starting to issue stark warnings about starting treatment in time before the (alleged) virus takes over, it may be no surprise that your CD4 count is lower. Then the next time, you'll be more anxious because not only will the warnings from the doctor be starker - as he was 'proved right' last time, you are more anxious anyway because your CD4 count really was lower last time, so this time the anxiety will probably drive your CD4 counts even lower, and so-on in a vicious circle of self-fulfilling prophesy until eventually your resolve collapses under what appears to be unequivocal evidence that the doctor was right after all.

Did you notice a familiar name in the references cited in the extract? Does the name 'Fauci' ring a bell? Yes, it's the same Anthony Fauci who is at the time of writing the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). And what did some of his research show? That as long ago as 1975, Anthony Fauci proved that corticosteroid treatments cause a temporary redistribution of immune system cells away from peripheral blood into bone marrow, where they are not measured by the types of tests usually used to determine your CD4 count. But remember, 1975 was a long, long, time ago, some while before the explosion that was the gay subculture's fast-track lifestyle really hit full-speed, and quite a while before there started to be significantly obvious signs that not everyone could tolerate it for long. and of course, even longer before the notion of a single killer virus had taken hold in world-wide consciousness.

anthony fauci - speaking with forked tongue
anthony fauci - speaking with forked tongue (note: We've added the tongue)

As Mohammed Al-Bayati and others have pointed out, corticosteroids were frequently prescribed to gay men at that time who were living that lifestyle often to help repair damage to the rectum as a result of damage from having too much or too rough anal sex, which may have been as a result of using too poppers, of which one of the effects is pain deadening. It has already been acknowledged that at that time the men most likely to become ill were what's called 'pig bottoms'. If I mention the terms 'bathhouse' and 'meat rack', you can probably work out the rest. Steroids were also prescribed to haemophiliacs deliberately to suppress the immune system because of the dangerous over-reactions to the impure clotting factors they were given.

Therefore Anthony Fauci, as a result of his own research, already knows of a major factor that both directly suppressed the immune systems of two major groups of people considered at risk for developing AIDS and also made their conventionally-measured CD4 counts look unrealistically low, even leaving psychological stress completely aside. And what did Anthony Fauci say when interviewed for the documentary film House of Numbers? "Co-factors are not necessary....The data that indicate any different type of infection like mycoplasma or something like that is a necessary co-factor, I believe those theories have been debunked.... There have been a number of theories as to what the origin of HIV/AIDS is, one of them was a theory that certainly turned out to be completely incorrect, that it's a 'lifestyle' phenomenon". That's not the only item of his own research Anthony Fauci has had to pretend didn't exist in order to sustain his position on HIV/AIDS. But then, when that research was published, there wasn't the promise of a lucrative and honour-laden glittering career apparently fighting an alleged deadly virus threatening all mankind.

So why have - at the very least, leaving aside serious doubts about HIV's role and and even it's existence for a moment - co-factors been so widely ignored? HEAL London suggests that there is no support for public money being spend on factors such as clean water and basic nutrition for Africans, or persuading gay men to not use dangerious chemicals. In acknowledging the role of pharmaceutical medical products in inducing symptoms categorised as AIDS, that directly threatens a major source of money for the medical industry. And as Dr Sonnabend said, "All we care about is HIV/AIDS. Well - question - There's money in it".