Does HIV Destroy Indirectly?

Dear Christine,

I have a question about the following statement I found at your site: "Although Gallo and others claim that HIV causes AIDS by destroying the T cells of the immune system, 20 years of cancer research proved that retroviruses do not destroy cells. And though more money has been spent on HIV than the total spent on all other viruses in history, there is still no significant proof for the HIV-AIDS hypothesis."

I'm not claiming to know the full story about the function of HIV, but I know it doesn't destroy cells. I think you'll find that if you research in greater depth, you'll discover these scientists you reference aren't claiming it does so, either. HIV doesn't destroy T cells itself, but it does indirectly by causing healthy cells to destroy infected T cells.

Jonathan M

Dear Jonathan,

The assertion that HIV causes T cell destruction directly or indirectly has never been proved. There have been many ideas proposed as to how HIV, a virus with no cell killing mechanisms, could be responsible for the destruction of immune cells ever since 1984 when Gallo claimed HIV was the cause of AIDS. Contrary to what you suggest, Gallo asserted HIV devastated T cells, mowing down them down "like a truck," and from what I understand, most AIDS experts today still believe this is true.

Numerous, often conflicting notions about how HIV might work, directly or indirectly, have been proposed and discarded over the past 20 years. To the best of my knowledge, all of these hypotheses have been falsified. As recently as July of 2003, the lack of explanation for how HIV allegedly harms cells was addressed in a 20-year retrospective of AIDS science published in the mainstream journal Nature Medicine. This article begins with an acknowledgement that since scientists still do not know how HIV destroys T cells research efforts are based on two hypotheses about how HIV might work. As you may know, a hypothesis is nothing more than an educated guess.

Back when I served as an AIDS awareness spokesperson, I accepted, memorized and perpetuated what I believed were succinct explanations as to how HIV caused AIDS. Once I finally scrutinized what I had been taught, it became clear that most everything was based on conjecture or poorly constructed studies. In fact, according to one high school text on scientific experiments, Gallo's hypothesis and original studies would not meet requirements for inclusion in a high school science fair.

If you have any published papers that demonstrate how HIV destroys T cells or otherwise causes AIDS, please send them my way. I am open to new information and ready to correct or amend our web site accordingly.

Thank you,

Christine

References

to A Closer Look FAQ's - Does HIV Exist?

to Questioning The Tests