The measure of damage to the immune system by which the progression of AIDS is assessed, apart from the obvious symptoms, is the count of white T cells in the blood; the lower the T cell count, the poorer the outlook. It is the common belief that the diminution of the white cells is entirely due to the predatory activity of a virus which, it has been theorized (but never demonstrated), enters the white T cells and destroys them, so greatly damaging the immune system. This belief, held worldwide, began with the hastily formed opinion of a single researcher employed by the US National Institute of Health, Dr Robert Gallo, and this opinion, still not formulated into a plausible theory--let alone proven--is why the entire world fears a virus which has never been shown to destroy white cells in the human body and which in many cases of AIDS cannot even be detected.

Research has disclosed that in only fifty per cent of AIDS patients can active HIV be detected, and even when it can be detected, only 1 in 10,000 white cells shows signs of it at most, and sometimes only 1 in 100,000 cells. Fewer than 1 in 500 of a host's T cells contain even dormant HIV. Obviously if a patient has no HIV present you cannot blame it for destroying the white cells. Furthermore, assuming HIV is harmful to white cells in the body (and to repeat: this has never been demonstrated), if it inhabits only 1 in 10,000 white cells it could never kill enough of them to remotely approach the body's normal capacity to make new ones. As the world's leading virologist, Professor Peter Duesberg of the University of California, said recently: "The idea of a virus killing so few cells and by so doing killing the body, is like trying to conquer China by shooting five Chinese soldiers a day." Impossible.

However, there is a simple watertight explanation of why AIDS patients display diminished numbers of T cells and in some cases none at all: long-term destructive living habits, especially the use of drugs--including medicinal drugs--so overtax the immune system that the thymus is gradually destroyed, and as the thymus is the only source of new T cells in the body, when the old T cells wear out there can be no new ones to replace them. An additional demolishing effect on the immune system and specifically destructive to the thymus is severe emotional stress, an illustration of which has already been given. Autopsies of AIDS patients show that in every case the thymus is severely atrophied or destroyed.*

*The New England Journal of Medicine on 6 January contained a report (Hersch, Reuben, Rios et al) on ten homosexuals, eight relatively healthy and two with signs of AIDS. All had had multiple bouts of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and associated medical treatment, all had used recreational drugs, and all had T cell ratio reversal as well as abnormal levels of thymus hormones, suggestive of thymus dysfunction or failure. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in June 1983, scientists reported that autopsies of twelve homosexuals who died of AIDS showed their thymus glands to be almost totally destroyed.

That explanation being correct, the question arises why do some children have AIDS? To answer that it must be emphasized that a lot of people are said to have AIDS simply because they test positive to HIV antibodies. This is not AIDS, nor does it mean AIDS is likely. To repeat, AIDS is a syndrome of infections which have nothing to do with viral antibodies. Children with real AIDS are born with defective immune systems, usually of mothers who are, or have been, drug addicts. Hemophiliacs, no matter how "clean-living", are at risk of AIDS because for a start they have been born with defective systems and throughout life are compelled to suffer the constant trauma of blood transfusions and the associated constant trauma of medicinal drugs, the combined effects of which over a long period are destructive to the immune system. Even transplant patients on immunosuppressing drugs to prevent tissue rejection of their new organs frequently display AIDS-like symptoms, which only makes senseif you set out to depress the immune system what would you expect?