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CONJ, RES: African AIDS and African Acquired Immune Dysfunction

K. Weber kweber at efn.org
Sun Jan 21 01:35:13 EST 1996

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 
African conditions 
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.

							Kathleen Weber

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

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