Dear Dr. James DeMeo,
I'd be interested in any information you have about this
including the lawsuit filed, information about the arrest, or any
information from dissident AIDS community in the United States etc.
I have been updating my understanding about my illness for some years
and do not see any way that CFIDS and AIDS could be distinguished in
very poor countries, except
by tests. Probably in the population most at risk for fatal postcedents
to a misdiagnosis, these tests are not even done. I don't know whether
effective diagnosis in Africa can be produced by methods developed in the
U.S. and Europe. It is not uncommon for viruses identified as possible
pathogens in one country, to be carried without effect on other
continents. For instance, EBV creates relatively benign disease in the
US, at least it did so until the current upsurge in CFIDS/Myalgic
Encephomyelitis. There have been clusters, though, where EBV appeared to
take the African course and cause Burkett's Lymphoma. This cluster was
found at the time of the orginial AIDS epidemic. Some have thought that
an African tree common in homes, offices, and restaurants, may have
altered the immune systems of people who came in contact with it. I have
never fully credited this, and feel that a common exposure to an AIDS
colateral virus may be more likely. It is probable that both AIDS and
CFIDS are taking a slightly different course in Africa, as Hepititus D
has taken in the US.
The bottom line, I think, is this: If the corn husk hooch is making
people sicker then I think this word needs to get out. There are an infinite
number of touchy and complex ethical issues involved and I would never hold
out any statement on such a critical topic as a firm opinion. Still, I
think we need to listen closely to what medical professionals from the
Third World say, and not feel that diseases and means of fighting them in
the Third World can be copies of our own. The diseases may be slightly
different, and our methods may not be relevant. They need help from us,
not high-handed ineffectiveness.
I would hope for broader interest in this subject on this or the
bionet immunology list.
Monolithic structures like the WHO tend to think they can control
information by suppressing it. The lid however can only be kept on so tight and the
real danger I think is that catastropic rumours will spread: a rumour for
that it is corn husk liquor rather than sex that causes AIDS would not be
positive, or one that
not everybody who is diagnosed with AIDS has AIDS, however true this may
be, could increase the number of cases via its temptation to unprotected
sex. If there is some scandal involved in falsification of negative AIDS
tests, after an initial positive test, I doubt that everyone involved in it
has poor intentions.
Perhaps a solution would be to consider CFIDS and other non-AIDS
characterized by multiple infections and immune dysregulation as non HIV
acquired immune dysfunction, or non-HIV African aquired immune dysfunction.
Uneducated people are easily confused
and in an age where everyone should be using protection, that confusion
could be to the benefit of those involved.
The ethical issue with entirely
suppressing information about the suspected relationship between nitrate
compounds and AIDS
like disease is that the observation is so old, and rumours, false or
true, will fly.
As a San Fransiscan, this was one of the first things we knew about AIDS.
There was an
observed connection between amyl nitrate use as an intoxicant and AIDS.
Some of the very early AIDS cases have followed a milder CFIDS like
course. The information we have about CFIDS travels slowly though the
U.S. CDC has named it as one of seven priority one illnesses.
In CFIDS, the risk of death can be largely controlled by the
avoidance of infections. If it is as rampant in African populations as
it was in San Fransisco in 1980 through 1983 it would seem to me the best
way to treat it would be with better water, safer food, and better access
to medical care. These are expensive solutions when compared to the
deemphasis on accurate and locally relevant AIDS testing.
I am not in any way wanting to suggest that AIDS is not rampant
in Africa and I don't think that you did. I think the question is one of
accurate differential diagnosis. It is truly sad if this is not occuring.
On Wed, 17 Jan 1996 californ at netcom.com wrote:
> From: Dr. James DeMeo <demeo at mind.net>
> Reply to: Dr. James DeMeo <demeo at mind.net>
> 15 January 1996
>> Regarding: AIDS in Africa