Q: Let's return to your alternative to the virus-AIDS hypothesis. How will the 'risk-AIDS' hypothesis help?

 A: My alternative, I believe, will explain in a rational way virtually everything that is paradoxical in the virus-AIDS hypothesis--25 diseases in the presence of antibodies to a retrovirus which I consider harmless because it is always idle.

My hypothesis postulates that most of the AIDS diseases in the United States and Europe are a direct consequence of the consumption of psychoactive drugs. Thirty percent of AIDS cases in this country are confirmed IV-drug users. We don't need any further explanation for those. And the others we have briefly discussed: the homosexuals who are at risk for AIDS use batteries of drugs--as aphrodisiacs, to get high, or for medical purposes. The worst of them now, of course, is AZT.

The risk-AIDS hypothesis would help explain why different groups get different diseases. As I said before, generally speaking the homosexuals in this country are the only ones to get Kaposi's sarcoma and they are the only ones who use poppers. Heroin and cocaine addicts get pneumonia. In Africa, they get slim disease and fever and diarrhea because of straight malnutrition and all the local infections there; they don't get pneumonia, even though they carry the same pneumocystis in their lungs that people in the rest of the world do. So, all of these groups are at risk, not because of HIV but because of the damage done to their bodies, directly or indirectly; by drugs and malnutrition.

My alternative, then, would explain why AIDS remains exclusively restricted to the major risk groups and is not random in the population, as an infectious disease would be. It would explain why it takes, on the average, ten years after infection to develop symptoms--ten years is merely an expression of the long and unpredictable time it takes to reach a threshold for pathogenicity when you use toxic drugs or have a toxic lifestyle.

 

Q: What is the 'toxic lifestyle' of a hemophiliac?

 A: Being a hemophiliac puts one at risk for a number of diseases. One element is the immunosuppressive function of blood substances--whether it is Factor VIII for hemophiliacs or blood transfusions in general. Both of these are known, classical conditions that repress the immune system. Again, it's individually very different. Some people accept blood products better than others.

And of course the additional risk is that, despite all current precautions, there are accidental infections that accompany blood products: hepatitis, cytomegalo infection, Epstein-Barr infection, and other infections through transfusions. That's unfortunately not uncommon.