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HIV causes AIDS? Question???
Aug 22, 2002

How do we know that HIV, since it's a latent virus with a latency mechanism, is not merely a reactivation as a result of whatever is really causing AIDS? In other words,

How do we know that HIV istself is not merely an opportunistic complication of whatever's really causing AIDS?

Response from Dr. Young

We know that HIV causes AIDS, because all persons with AIDS have genetic evidence of HIV. The virus can be cultured from such individuals, and in unfortunate cases of occupational exposures, we know that innoculation of the virus causes the recipient to become infected (and in early years, progress to AIDS).

Also, treatments that cause reduction in HIV levels cause improvement in immune function; a situation that would not be the case if something other than HIV was responsible for causing immune depletion.

Yes, the virus does have a long latent phase, but it does not reactivate (unless someone is on antiretrovirals and stops therapy)-- that is to say that in untreated persons, the virus circulates (is active) and destroys CD4 cells all the time.

These are well established, internationally agreed upon premises; the notion that HIV does not cause AIDS is a dangerous one that has been used to block access to care -- leading to unneccessary illness and even death.

I hope that this clarifies your queston. -BY



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