Myth-intoxicated scientists: “HIV causes AIDS”

The differences between scientists and non-scientists are small, but important. One important difference is that all scientists accept at least the idea that what contradicts carefully cross-checked observations is false. Some non-scientists continue to believe what is flat out contradicted by the available evidence. This is myth intoxication among non-scientists.

When it comes to intoxication by myths, there is little difference between scientists and non-scientists. Consider the myth that HIV causes AIDS.

By definition a “cause” is an immediate acting, omnipotent single source, an irresistible force. Given the occurrence of the cause, the effect must occur. Consequently, the statement “HIV causes AIDS” means that given an HIV infection, immunodeficiency must occur immediately. This is patently not the case, as there are people infected for years who are not significantly more immuno-deficient than the average malnourished individual. Both the immediacy and the omnipotence are missing.

Consider that less than 1% of accidental needle sticks result in HIV infection. Hardly causal. As a rule, medical professionals are not immunodeficient -probably less so than the average person- and are not taken down further by this virus.

What would the infection rate be without the quick medical attention so many medical professionals receive? Don’t know – but it would not be nearly 100%, the number expected if HIV were THE CAUSE of AIDS.

A more reasonable view is this. There are many sources of immunodeficiency, some more potent than others, but none is omnipotent. Analogy: immunodeficiency is a raging river fed by its “major” source (such as a mountain lake, which is fed by precipitation from evaporated water from many other sources) and many minor sources (many streams, each of which has many sources).

Nutrient insufficiency is likely to be a potent (if not the major) source of immunodeficiency. Opportunistic pathogens such as HIV strike. When a sufficiently potent strain of HIV strikes a “sufficiently” immuno-deficient person, the CD4 cells are usually and gradually reduced in number. Thus, given permissive conditions, HIV slowly exacerbates a pre-existing immunodeficiency. This is a far cry from “HIV causes AIDS”- that is myth intoxication among scientists. Millions of research dollars depend on the belief in the myth. Who would spend so much money on a mere gradual exacerbator of a pre-existing problem?

When HIV significantly exacerbates someone’s immunodeficiency, reducing viral loads to near zero per mL, will significantly improve someone’s immuno-competence (good for grant money). When HIV only slightly exacerbates someone’s immunodeficiency, the improvement in immuno-competence will be minor when the virus has been similarly reduced in titer.

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