Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Picky Pox

Via Universal Hub: corrections and reflections on the smallpox inoculation scene in the John Adams miniseries from J. L. Bell.

The actual inoculation process shown on screen—scraping pus from an infected person’s sores and inserting it into a cut on the inoculatee—was one of the cruder medical protocols of the time. Physicians also used ground-up scabs and threads dipped in pus to transmit the disease. They looked for infected people who seemed to have mild cases. According to an anonymous commenter on this posting, the series showed pus too thick to be from the early stage of the disease, and thus not contagious. I must confess that I don’t know my pus that well. But I commend the miniseries for including this unattractive but common aspect of eighteenth-century life, even within the confines of its budget.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Intestinal Dysbiosis

Via Henry Bauer: an alternative theory to explain classic AIDS (as opposed to the more widely-defined HIV/AIDS of today), intestinal dysbiosis.

One thing that those who reject the HIV/AIDS hypothesis agree on is that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. But when it comes to alternative theories of causation, disagreement abounds. And some of the most vexing questions surround the earliest cases of AIDS, those that were initially dubbed Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). Why did it originate in some gay communities? Why did this happen in the late 1970s and early 1980s? Why in the particular form of PCP (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia), candidiasis, KS (Kaposi’s sarcoma)? And why still do gay men so often test “HIV+”? Why do some “HIV+” people thrive without medication while others get ill?
Here’s a suggestion that answers all those questions in a coherent way. [...]
Inadvertent alteration of these intestinal microflora may eliminate beneficial bacteria while simultaneously promoting the proliferation of harmful microbes. This state, intestinal dysbiosis, can lead to a series of problems, problems which taken together may explain much of what is called AIDS, at least with respect to some groups of gay men.
First, the lining of the gut may become more porous than normal, a condition known as increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut (2). This then allows microbial translocation—a flood of antigens into the blood stream—to occur, which in turn sets off a systemic immune response and the production of large numbers of antibodies to lots of different things. This condition, hypergammaglobulinemia—too many antibodies to too many things—is a known cause of false-positive reactions on the “HIV tests”.

PlagueBlog recommends not delving too deep (i.e., more than three pages) into the PDF if you're squeamish. This is not a pretty theory, and that may be its main disadvantage in the marketplace of ideas.

Monday, March 24, 2008

HIV Dissent

Via a mailing list and three degrees of separation, I came across this recent article: Questioning HIV/AIDS by Henry H. Bauer, in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Winter 2007). It gives an overview of the history of HIV theory and its discontents:

For more than two decades, dissenters from the assertion that HIV = AIDS have published books and articles and maintained a presence on the Internet, but major media have paid little if any attention; thus most people seem unaware that there are any serious doubts about the matter. The media silence was breached briefly in 2000 when President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa convened a group comprising both HIV/AIDS believers and HIV/AIDS skeptics to advise him on the scientific status of the issue. However, the media coverage gave short shrift to the doubters’ views by comparison to the believers’ Durban Declaration with its 5,000 signatures, which asserted: “The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous, meeting the highest standards of science.... It is unfortunate that a few vocal people deny the evidence. This position will cost countless lives.”

The author goes on to point out, as so many HIV dissenters have, that science is backed up with citations, not signatures, and that no such "clear-cut, exhaustive, and unambiguous" connection between HIV and AIDS has been established. You can read much more about it in his blog.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Autism as Diagnostic Substitution

Half Sigma cites a two-year-old paper from Pediatrics to explain the autism "epidemic" as a change in diagnostic categories, rather than any known increase in the incidence of autism. The Contribution of Diagnostic Substitution to the Growing Administrative Prevalence of Autism in US Special Education reported the following results:

The average administrative prevalence of autism among children increased from 0.6 to 3.1 per 1000 from 1994 to 2003. By 2003, only 17 states had a special education prevalence of autism that was within the range of recent epidemiological estimates. During the same period, the prevalence of mental retardation and learning disabilities declined by 2.8 and 8.3 per 1000, respectively. Higher autism prevalence was significantly associated with corresponding declines in the prevalence of mental retardation and learning disabilities. The declining prevalence of mental retardation and learning disabilities from 1994 to 2003 represented a significant downward deflection in their preexisting trajectories of prevalence from 1984 to 1993. California was one of a handful of states that did not clearly follow this pattern.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Counterfeiting Heparin

Via ProMED-mail: the ever-widening counterfeit Chinese heparin scandal doesn't seem to have hit the news very hard compared to the ongoing downers-for-dinner scandal, even though the downer recall is merely punitive in comparison with the recall of half the nation's heparin supply, and especially when you consider that the recall itself was delayed by the FDA because the basic need for heparin outweighed the serious safety concerns.

Heparin is a blood thinner administered to most inpatients, as well as to dialysis patients. It is derived from pig intestines; the raw ingredient is imported from China, before or after processing. Last week the New York Times reported on the discovery of the subtle counterfeit substance intended to pass for real heparin--and no such adulteration in heparin batches known not to cause adverse reactions. This counterfeit ingredient has evidently caused 19 deaths and almost 800 non-fatal adverse reactions so far.

German patients have also suffered adverse reactions leading to a recall, and as a precaution Japan recalled all heparin associated with a suspect Chinese producer late today.

Considering the malice aforethought involved in this sort of counterfeiting and the fact that it's hardly the first time, PlagueBlog recommends cutting off trade relations with China.