IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

Aids and Ozone

Mark Jude Hyman mh691292
Wed Jul 12 17:18:08 EST 1995

Andrea Dennis wrote:

>It is becoming increasingly evident, however,  throughout the
>scientific community that the depletion of the ozone layer is having a direct
>effect on the emergence and re-emergence of viruses. Of course this has all
>kinds of implications. How many different things do we know of deplete the 
>ozone layer? All kinds of things. Every tree that's cut down, pollution, 
>hairspray, the list could go on forever. And even those things increase the
>likelihood of emergence and re-emergence. Look at the rainforest. Every
>area that's cleared exposes species to new viruses. That's how HIV came
>about in the first place. So, yes, the depletion of the ozone layer does
>directly affect people...And, just a reminder, without ozone, we would
>not have a planet condusive to life, especially human life. We would not
>be able to breathe. We would fry from the exposure of Ultraviolet rays
>from the sun. Ozone is definitely important.

Hold on just a sec, there. Are you trying to say that new viruses are emerging
as a direct result of the depletion of the ozone layer? I'd love to see some of
the evidence that apparently "the scientific community" is using to make such a
claim. _Maybe_ there's a slight chance that there's a higher mutation rate for
viruses, but I'd bet that it would be insignificant compared to the effects of
an above-ground nuclear test, for instance.

It's true that as we expand into new areas that we expose ourselves (and those
already there) to new diseases. This has been a problem demonstrated by
explorers and armies throughout history. However, this is not "how HIV came
about." HIV came about in the same way as other viruses- through the processes
of mutation and natural selection, commonly summed up as evolution. Certainly
it spread far and wide because humans can now travel throughout the world to
pretty much anywhere we want. Global travel, combined with large cities and a
mobile population provides a great way for any virus to hitch-hike around the
world. Naturally, one that doen't make you ill for years just has it that much

I make no argument with your claim that ozone is important to the environment,
for it certainly is. And I agree that its use in treating HIV is rather
But the idea that the depletion of the ozone layer is leading to the emergence
of viruses sounds like a topic from alt.conspiracy, at least to me.

Please feel free to prove me wrong.


Mark J. Hyman
Division of Molecular Virology
Baylor College of Medicine

More information about the Virology mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net