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The high wattage enthusiasm of Myron Cohen

An important meeting in Washington of a large number of key people who mount HIV?AIDS trials of all kinds took place this week, and we decided to get down there in time for the talk this afternoon of Myron Cohen, who did not disappoint.

Myron, of the University of North Carolina, has developed a heroic level of enthusiasm for mounting a very large trial to see how anti-retrovirals might interfere with the dread possibility of man transferring HIV positivity to woman and vice-versa.

In a fast talking slide presentation involving “logs” and “g”s Myron rushed the audience through what purported to be a preliminary trial of some kind, which had cleared the way for the $100 million real thing, if funding for that was made available, as it no doubt will be if Myron is in the room. What a dynamo!

There was one very interesting slide which we will examine in detail later for what it tells us about the obstacles he has to contend with.

Meanwhile sitting in the audience was Nancy Padian whose study was the first that established the Mount Matterhorn that Myron will have to climb in discovering any effect whatsoever, which is that heterosexual contagion is effectively nil, according to Padian and other mainstream literature.

We will expand on this theme after returning from the conference, which includes cherry pie and some kind of soft dessert of a celestial order undreamed of by the unfortunate sufferers from HIV?AIDS in far away continents, who are about as far removed from the living style of their saviors as they are in mileage.

We read the Harpers piece again as we trained down to this networking node, and we will report on the surprising responses of key NIAIDS stalwarts such as Ed Tramont, Director of the Division of AIDS, when we asked them if they had read it.

But what a delightful experience the whole affair is. How healthy – positively glowing with nutrition and fulfilment – seem all the people here. I must say they set a good example for the people who are the object of their attentiveness, at least in persuading them to be public spirited enough to offer themselves for experimenting on in these trials, which as Celia Farber points out are the most lucrative scientific and medical activity in view these days.

We have been repeatedly reassured by everyone here that any criticism of these activities or the science behind them is sheer ignorance. In fact we were told by more than one person that it was comparable to Holocaust denial.

No one could yet explain how it was that the scientific journals that had published Duesberg had been taken over by sheer ignorance but we will find out tomorrow, we are sure.

Tony Fauci will come and give the final talk and then hand out awards for “networking”. At the rate we are collecting cards we think we might get one too.

11 Responses to “The high wattage enthusiasm of Myron Cohen”

  1. Richard Jefferys Says:

    AIDS is a viral disease of the immune system, the outstanding questions regarding pathogenesis are rooted in scientific ignorance of how the human T cell immune system actually works. HIV infection causes unique immunological peturbations which are not mirrored by malnourishment, drug abuse or anything else. The strongest predictor of disease progression is not viral RNA copies of CD4 T cell counts in peripheral blood, it’s the level of IMMUNE ACTIVATION. Immune activation correlates with depletion of the naive CD4 and CD8 T cell pools (the depletion of which also correlates with the onset of clinically symptomatic immunodeficiency), which is also paralleled by a spreading dysfunction among memory CD4 and CD8 T cells, eventually leading to the loss/anergy of recall responses to common pathogens (PCP, MAC, etc.).The growing scientific understanding of T cell homeostasis (how T cell pools are maintained in the body) suggests plausible mechanisms by which persistent low level T cell activation can eventually lead to frank immunodeficiency (a mouse model has even been developed which recapitulates many features of HIV-related immune dysfunction by overexpressing the costimulatory molecule CD70). As immunologist Zvi Grossman has pointed out, there is no need for HIV to be cytopathic to CD4 T cells for it to cause disease, because activated T cells are inherently short-lived (~1-2 days) whether they are infected or not. HIV essentially feeds off the immune system’s attempts to respond to it by preferentially infecting HIV-specific CD4 T cells which are critical for the development of effective CD8 and B cell &antibody reponses. I have yet to see any denialist information that actually attempts to address our current understanding of immunology as it relates to HIV infection, all the arguments (including those in the dismal Celia Farber outing in Harper’s) are directed at literature that was published 10-20 years ago. I think you need to go do some reading.

  2. Chris Scheuermann Says:

    This is my first time posting. Perhaps this is not the most auspicious way to begin but I wish to challenge Mr. Jefferys. Firstly, I wish to start out by saying that I object to the use of the term “denialist”. There have certainly been enough inconsistencies, gross errors, misreporting and the like covering the entire span of AIDS that many reasonable people could accuse you and the orthodoxy of maintaining a failed or highly questionable hypothesis, for whatever reason, and hence label you a denialist. The fact that the HIV model is based on papers found to be froudulent from scientific enquiry, from a “scientist” accussed of stealing is enough to indict the foudations of good scientific peer review. However, the question I have is rather simple. HOW? For over twenty years we have been told that HIV is cytopathic. I can assure you that is what they still say, at least in the literature found in HIV/AIDS resource centers. I happen to work in one in NJ. Now over twenty years later, you posit that HIV doesn’t have to by cytopathic. Wow, that’s a load off. Ok, the same question still lingers…HOW? What is the mechanism of causation? I was hoping after 20+ years and almost 150 billion dollars we could have that answer. But, since the story keeps changing every single time predictions fail, and they always do, perhaps a few more billion is all that it will take? This is the most incredible virus ever. I just wonder(along with thousands of others), how much change can possibly be attributed to a retrovirus with such limited genetic material? I eagerly anticipate the response. Also, could you include the cited scientific literature to substantiate what you are claiming? Thank you. Chris

  3. Richard Jefferys Says:

    TB has been around since the Egyptians and we still don’t fully understand TB pathogenesis. Is there a movement that claims the TB organism is harmless? If there is I’m not familiar with it. I would love to be able to import the knowledge of human immunology from some more informed time in the future so we could fully understand HIV pathogenesis right now but sadly I cannot. I can provide some cites regarding the points made above, however, although I work at a community-based AIDS organization and thus can easily dismissed as part of the grand conspiracy or “orthodoxy” if that’s the preferred term. For six years I spent most of my time talking to people on the phone about treatment-related issues, so I also do not need to be lectured about the potential misery of side effects but compared to the early 90s when people were going blind because of CMV infection I also know from direct experience that we have come a long way. Reading Peter Duesberg’s recommendation that everyone on treament stop because it’ll save their lives makes me more angry than I can put into words.Grossman Z, Meier-Schellersheim M, Sousa AE, Victorino RM, Paul WE. CD4+ T-cell depletion in HIV infection: are we closer to understanding the cause?Nat Med. 2002 Apr;8(4):319-23 Leng Q, Borkow G, Weisman Z, Stein M, Kalinkovich A, Bentwich Z. Immune activation correlates better than HIV plasma viral load with CD4 T-cell decline during HIV infection.J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2001 Aug 1;27(4):389-97. Koesters SA, Alimonti JB, Wachihi C, Matu L, Anzala O, Kimani J, Embree JE, Plummer FA, Fowke KR. IL-7Ralpha expression on CD4(+) T lymphocytes decreases with HIV disease progression and inversely correlates with immune activation.Eur J Immunol. 2006 Feb;36(2):336-44. Hazenberg MD, Otto SA, van Benthem BH, Roos MT, Coutinho RA, Lange JM, Hamann D, Prins M, Miedema F. Persistent immune activation in HIV-1 infection is associated with progression to AIDS.AIDS. 2003 Sep 5;17(13):1881-8 Messele T, Brouwer M, Girma M, Fontanet AL, Miedema F, Hamann D, Rinke de Wit TF. Plasma levels of viro-immunological markers in HIV-infected and non-infected Ethiopians: correlation with cell surface activation markers.Clin Immunol. 2001 Feb;98(2):212-9. Hazenberg MD, Stuart JW, Otto SA, Borleffs JC, Boucher CA, de Boer RJ, Miedema F, Hamann D. T-cell division in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection is mainly due to immune activation: a longitudinal analysis in patients before and during highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).Blood. 2000 Jan 1;95(1):249-55. Hazenberg MD, Otto SA, Cohen Stuart JW, Verschuren MC, Borleffs JC, Boucher CA, Coutinho RA, Lange JM, Rinke de Wit TF, Tsegaye A, van Dongen JJ, Hamann D, de Boer RJ, Miedema F. Increased cell division but not thymic dysfunction rapidly affects the T-cell receptor excision circle content of the naive T cell population in HIV-1 infection.Nat Med. 2000 Sep;6(9):1036-42. Roederer M, Dubs JG, Anderson MT, Raju PA, Herzenberg LA, Herzenberg LA. CD8 naive T cell counts decrease progressively in HIV-infected adults.J Clin Invest. 1995 May;95(5):2061-6. Ullum H, Lepri AC, Victor J, Skinhoj P, Phillips AN, Pedersen BK. Increased losses of CD4+CD45RA+ cells in late stages of HIV infection is related to increased risk of death: evidence from a cohort of 347 HIV-infected individuals.AIDS. 1997 Oct;11(12):1479-85.

  4. Richard Jefferys Says:

    I should also maybe add that if you want to compare the immunological effects of HIV infection with malnourishment or drug addiction there are studies in PubMed, analyses of individuals with severe malnourishment due to anorexia nervosa for example (there are some similarities but a lot of differences i.e. peripheral blood CD4 T cell counts are reduced but nowhere near as dramatically, there’s reduced immune activation, reduced CD8 T cell counts, no opportunistic infection and the abnormalities resolve rapidly upon refeeding). There is no evidence I can find of any recreational drug having persisent effects on T cell populations (there are, however, some preliminary suggestions that crystal meth might). Oh, and immune activation also likely explains the easier transmission of HIV in settings where the enviromental pathogen load is high e.g. Africa (see abstract below)I can understand that it is frustrating to not feel informed about this stuff, but I think that reflects more on the generally terrible job of reporting done by the media than it does necessarily on scientists (not that I am offering a ringing endorsement of all HIV researchers, far from it). AIDS. 2000 Sep 29;14(14):2083-92. Immune activation in africa is environmentally-driven and is associated with upregulation of CCR5. Italian-Ugandan AIDS Project.Clerici M, Butto S, Lukwiya M, Saresella M, Declich S, Trabattoni D, Pastori C, Piconi S, Fracasso C, Fabiani M, Ferrante P, Rizzardini G, Lopalco L.Cattedra di Immunologia, Universita di Milano, Italy.BACKGROUND: HIV infection in Africa is associated with immune activation and a cytokine profile that stimulates CCR5 expression. We investigated whether this immune activation is environmentally driven; if a dominant expression of CCR5 could indeed be detected in African individuals; and if R5 HIV strains would be prevalent in this population. METHODS: Freshly drawn peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-uninfected African and Italian individuals living in rural Africa, from HIV-uninfected Africans and Italians living in Italy, and from HIV-infected African and Italian patients were analysed. Determinations of HIV coreceptor-specific mRNAs and immunophenotype analyses were performed in all samples. Virological analyses included virus isolation and characterization of plasma neutralizing activity. FINDINGS: Results showed that: immune activation is detected both in Italian and African HIV-uninfected individuals living in Africa but not in African subjects living in Italy; CCR5-specific mRNA is augmented and the surface expression of CCR5 is increased in African compared with Italian residents (CXCR4-specific mRNA is comparable); R5-HIV strains are isolated prevalently from lymphocytes of African HIV-infected patients; and plasma neutralizing activity in HIV-infected African patients is mostly specific for R5 strains. CONCLUSIONS: Immune activation in African residents is environmentally driven and not genetically predetermined. This immune activation results in a skewing of the CCR5 : CXCR4 ratio which is associated with a prevalent isolation of R5 viruses. These data suggest that the selection of the predominant virus strain within the population could be influenced by an immunologically driven pattern of HIV co receptor expression.

  5. Frank Lusardi Says:

    Thus does Donald W. Miller‘s analogy come to perfection. While journalists like Truthseeker and Celia Farber bring to the public the straightforward science of our modern Coperincuses, Peter Duesberg and Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, today’s Ptolemies, Zvi Grossman and his colleagues, conjure epicycles within epicycles in a final effort to save a dying paradigm.

  6. Chris Scheuermann Says:

    A few things. First I want to thank Mr. Jefferys for the cited works. While I have not read all of them, but certainly will, I have a few comments. Firstly, as to tuberculosis, I am not an expert. however i would say that tuberculosis is a completely different organism…a bacterium. More importantly however, unless it can be proven otherwise, that bacterium is found in all cases of Tuberculosis, and you don’t need PCR to detect it because it is abundant, unlike HIV which, if you believe first off that it has been properly isolated and identified, clearly even in late stage “AIDS” is not. I would say that the major flaw I find in the articles that you cited are the same flaws that have constantly been articulated. Namely that with few exceptions throughout the literature, no controls are used. How to determine the pathogenesis of a purported virus based on immune observations, without those same observations being done in HIV negative participants doesn’t prove anything except the continuing circularity of the AIDS definition. As has been pointed out many times, if you assume the causitive agent in your definition, it becomes an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Even in studies that purport to use controls, the underlying assumption is that what ever they are looking for, HIV is the cause. They rule out all other possibilities. They never explain the condition of the test subjects. Are we to assume that they are all perfectly healthy except for HIV? What else do they have? They never say. Particulary in the Italian-Ugandan study you cited. No description is given of the subjects other than they are HIV-positive.(I guess I should be grateful that their diagnosis was made upon the results of a test, where clearly most africans don’t have that luxury) Again, the non-specificity of the tests is another several posts altogether. So Immune activation was found to be Environmental. Ok. and HIV was prevalent in those subjects. So What? That doesn’t prove a causal role for HIV. That means those subjects that were tested were HIV positive. You cannot extrapolate onto an entire popualation based on a study that is hardly a representative sample. But, now i would like to touch on something different. It is the politics of this disease. First off, Mr. Jefferys, unless you were referring to Celia Farber, I at no point lectured you on anything, let alone even mentioned drug toxicity. I tend to leave that to the drug companies, they have wonderfully long lists of them on the labels. I would also caution that one of the main hinderances to this type of discussion is the emotion that engulfs it. Science is reason, not passion. I work at the same type of organization you do. I have seen poeple die. I have watched them make those hard choices. And while I understand the emotion that you have, it is inappropriate to suggest both that people “need to go do some reading.”, or the rather paternal and superior nature of your reply to me suggesting how difficult it is “…not to feel informed…”. As if the thousands of Scientists, Doctors, Journalists, who have been intensely reading and critiquing the literature, for over two decades(not just research from 20 years ago as you assert), have some how missed the mark, and have just not read what you have read. I would also say that had Duesberg or any other scientist been allowed the “right of reply” in the major journals, perhaps we wouldn’t be were we are now. It is very difficult for people to be challenged on anything. The walls go up, and the preconcieved notions rule. It is hard to suggest to a doctor that they may be doing more harm than good,or simply that they are wrong. Likewise for a person who has made his/her living is social services, particularly HIV/AIDS. Is it not at all possible that opinions have been molded based upon 20+years of a singularly dogmatic message?

  7. Richard Jefferys Says:

    I plead guilty to hectoring, and apologize for it, but having just read an article that contains such nuggets as “With all other viral diseases, by the way, the presence of antibodies signals immunity to the disease” I did not arrive with a particularly optimistic view of um, our “modern Coperincuses” knowledge of human immunology. Anger I can’t really apologize for, if you want my truly unvarnished opinion about Duesberg et al it is that they are death cult united by vicious rightwing politics and a desire that people with HIV be ignored and left to die. As for your other points, I think discussion might be better left ’til you read the papers. Plenty of immunology papers have HIV-negative controls (demonstrating, for example, that HIV-infected people have HIV-specific T cell responses whereas HIV-uninfected people – with the intriguing exception of some rare highly exposed uinfected individuals – do not). To argue that HIV infection is mysteriously associated with immune activation, naive T cell depletion and memory T cell dysfunction that is in fact caused by something else (and that antireteroviral therapy only coincidentally ameliorates those immunological abnormalities) seems to be stretching credulity and drifting into sophistry, to me at least.

  8. Chris Scheuermann Says:

    I assure you that I will read those works cited. I have read some of them. Again, I am fully aware that some studies purport to use controls. However, The total picture of the subjects is never given. What is their total health status? do they have other diseases? Do they have a history of drug abuse? Are they malnurished? These are questions that need to be answered. Not the least of which is because any of those things will cause a false positive result on an HIV test. And, generally and historically, yes, the presence of antibodies did represent immunity. The only possible virus that has demonstrated a latency period and then reappear is herpes. but again, herpes has actually been seen, in abundance. There are no documented cases of viremia with HIV. If there were, there would be no need for PCR becuase there it would be, millions of them. HIV viremia was popular when David Ho was credible. And PCR viral amplification(which is not quantitative)was seen to represent whole virus. His theory has been pretty much discredited. As to Duesberg, I don’t mind saying that I completely disagree. But, if we are going to delve into the realm of conspiracy theory, I posit that it is much more believable that HIV is just a huge cash machine. You don’t even have to focus on AIDS to see how broken, not only peer review in this country is, but how broken the safety protocols for the FDA are. Most notably with Vioxx. But, it is pretty difficult to look at the history of AIDS, and its purported Medications, starting with the fraudulent AZT trials, which were completely excoriated in the Concorde Report, all the way up to the very real disgrace that was the Ugandan Nevirapine trials, and not beg the question. Further, from a personal, unvarnished perspective, I believe as do many many others, that the AIDS epidemic in Africa is completely overblown. And you don’t have to look very hard to see that. Sub-Saharan Africa was supposed to be wiped off the face of the map. Well, in roughly twenty years, despite the “plague” not to mention all the wonderful poverty, it has increased in population roughly the size of the United States. But, if you can look at Africa, and see Multi-generational civil war, unstable governments, migrating employment, no clean water, no sewage, no sanitation, malnutrition on a massive scale, protein deficiency, not to mention the biggest killers, TB and Malaria, Cholera, Leprosy, and a complete lack, in many places on the continent of even basic medical care, and still see a booming population but say that they are in the midst of an AIDS pandemic; I really wouldn’t understand the justification for that. I beleive we use that continent as one big vaccine trial…because African life is cheap. When was the last time we had a “Clean water for Africa” dance marathon? Poverty isn’t profitable. Which is why the West, in all of our self-righteousness, can tell Africa not to spend money on infrastructure, and all of the myriad of problems that we have long since forgotten, and tell them that they need sexual education lectures and condoms. Because even though studies have shown that as far as sex goes, We are the whores, who have more sexual partners, and more different types of sex than Africans, somehow, we have convinced them that they just have that dirty animalistic sex, that is so depraved. It was my turn to go off on a bit of a rant, but I think it is much more visible and easily provable, that we have tremendously racist policies toward Africa, and that is the real death cult.

  9. Richard Jefferys Says:

    “we have tremendously racist policies toward Africa”No argument from me on that point. In terms of the sex stuff, sure there’s been much dismal speculation on that point but the point I was trying to make above is that the explanation is much more likely to be immunological (e.g. STDs increase immune activation and increase risk of acquiring HIV infection, ergo it is not too surprising that in settings where there is increased environmental immune activation there is also an increased risk of HIV transmission). The stuff about the cites perhaps suggests the pointlessness of me posting here in the first place; they were not done to convince hardened skeptics (if that is better than denialists) that HIV causes AIDS, they were done primarily to try and learn something about HIV immunology &pathogenesis. Still, at least some of the information you’re looking for will be in the materials and methods sections of the papers. Lots of viruses can cause disease in the presence of antibodies, not just herpes simplex and herpes zoster e.g. hepatitis B &C, dengue virus where the presence of antibodies can make secondary infection worse.

  10. Richard Jefferys Says:

    On further reflection, although perhaps I am doing the immunologists a disservice by using their studies in this context, I think the crux of what I’m trying to get across is as follows: If Duesberg is going to use human immunology in the service of his argument that HIV cannot cause immunodeficiency (which he has done, citing Jonathan Sprent’s 1977 paper on T cell regeneration capacity, for example), and the understanding of human immunology advances in such a way that mechanisms by which HIV causes immunodeficiency do suggest themselves (as it indeed has), then Duesberg needs to adapt his argument. Perhaps I have just not looked in the right places, but as far as I can tell neither he nor his acolytes have done so. To follow the logic of the questions you raise about the cites I posted, it would seem that you are suggesting that these immunological studies – and there are many more, from all over the world (with and without controls!), reliably showing the same patterns of immunological peturbations in people with HIV infection – might have all produced these data because HIV infection is coincidentally a marker for these peturbations, which in fact have another cause even though there is no other known condition (including ICL) that has been associated with this pattern of immunogical peturbations (including malnourishment and chronic drug abuse). Well, actually, there is an exception in HIV-2, which causes the same pattern of activation, naive T cell depletion and memory T cell dysfunction but at a slower pace. Anyway, as I said before, to me this is stretching credulity to breaking point.

  11. Jani Says:

    I have been posting some new articles of mine on Gallo etc on my website http://www.hivaids.plus.com – hope you enjoy them.

    Janine Roberts

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