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October 28, 2008
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November 6, 2008

Questions and Answers About AIDS

Dr. Raxit Jariwalla, professor of virology, is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of AIDS and nutrition. In this questions and answer section Dr. Jariwalla exposes the truth about the background of the ARV business with the AIDS epidemic.

  1. Does HIV exist?
  2. What does the diagnosis “HIV-positive” mean?
    “HIV-positive” means that a person has antibodies to this virus – not necessarily the presence of an intact virus. The presence of antibodies to HIV only implies that the person at some earlier point was exposed to the virus.
  3. Does HIV cause AIDS?
    HIV has been linked to AIDS but, but there is no scientific evidence that it is the sole cause of AIDS. It is an undisputed scientific fact that it takes on an average 9 to 10 years (!) from HIV infection to the manifestation of the symptoms of AIDS in those who develop it. This is unlike other viruses such as measles or the flu, where it only takes a few days from the time of infection to the outbreak of the disease. These facts indicate that other factors contribute to AIDS development. They are discussed below.
  4. Does everyone who is diagnosed “HIV-positive” develop AIDS?
    No, not everyone does. There are many long-term survivors who had been diagnosed HIV-positive, but have remained free of AIDS symptoms for more than a decade. Based on WHO-Reports from 2001 about the annual appearance of new AIDS cases it can be estimated that the rate of AIDS development was 1.4% per year. This statistically says that from all people infected with HIV globally less than 20% develop AIDS even after a period of 13 years. This is particularly significant since at that time only a minority of the HIV-infected population was on ARV drugs.
  5. Are there other causes of immune deficiency and AIDS?
    Yes, there are. The most widespread cause of immune deficiencies is malnutrition, and in particular, insufficient intake of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients. Scientific studies (Gray RH, 1983Beach RS et al, 1992Baum MK et al, 1995) have clearly shown that both, malnutrition derived from insufficient intake of protein as well as specific deficits in micronutrient intake (blood levels) have been linked to immune deficiencies, HIV-infections and AIDS.
  6. What is “viral load” and does it correlate with the severity of AIDS?
    Viral load is the concentration of the virus in the bloodstream. It is measured by quantifying the level of viral RNA in the blood plasma. Viral load has been thought to be a correlate of the progression of the AIDS disease; however, this relationship has been questioned.
  7. So what is the significance of “viral load” and how does it relate to AIDS drug approval?
    Initially, the measurement of viral load was introduced as a so-called “biomarker,” that is a measurable indicator for the successful suppression of the progression of AIDS disease. Soon thereafter it became clear that viral load was a poor substitute (surrogate) marker for AIDS. Nevertheless, early ARV drugs, such as AZT and nevirapine, were approved primarily on this criterion and even subsequent ARV drug approval has been based on it.However, it was later recognized that patients taking ARVs and experiencing viral load reduction were not protected from developing AIDS. Today it is clear that viral load has been made a “surrogate marker” for the purpose of AIDS drug approval. Fact is, however, that viral load does not correlate with the progression of AIDS disease.
  8. So what would be better “biomarkers” for AIDS?
    AIDS is defined as an immune deficiency condition. The progression of this disease is best reflected by the status of immune cells in the blood in general comprising various types of white blood cells (leucocytes), including lymphocytes such as CD4 and CD8 cells, monocytes, macrophages and neutrophils.
  9. Can ARVs cure HIV infections?
    Anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) are chemical compounds that were designed to inhibit steps in the multiplication of viruses of the same virus family (retroviruses). Fact is, however, that these drugs also affect the growth and multiplication of all normal cells in the body. ARVs can lower “viral load” in the bloodstream of a patient, however, these drugs do not eradicate the virus from the body and thereby eliminate the infection.
  10. Can ARVs cure AIDS?
    No, they cannot cure AIDS. At best, they keep HIV levels in check in the bloodstream, but they neither eradicate the virus nor rebuild (reconstitute) the immune system. Immune deficiency persists in the body even in the presence of ARV drugs. Infected persons remain susceptible to opportunistic infections, such as Tuberculosis, pneumocystis, fungal infections as well as other complications of AIDS.
  11. Are there any long-term studies that show that ARVs are lifesaving or life prolonging?
    No. There are no placebo-controlled, long-term studies showing that ARVs are lifesaving or life prolonging. The effects of ARV drugs on survival of patients are limited, as shown by the study that was used to obtain the approval of AZT for AIDS treatment (AZT licensing study). In that study, involving AIDS patients, taking AZT showed only a short-term survival benefit. Moreover, the patients that survived had to be kept alive by red blood cell transfusions.One of the largest studies conducted with AZT was a British/French study called “Concorde”, involving HIV infected patients who had not developed any symptoms of AIDS. In this study, giving AZT did neither prevent the development of AIDS nor prolong the life of HIV-infected persons. In fact, in this large-scale study, those participants who took AZT drugs had a 25% higher death (mortality) rate compared to the control group who received only placebo.
  12. So even after 25 years of promoting ARV drugs – above all in the developing world – is there any clinical proof from long term controlled studies that these drugs reduce the progression of AIDS disease or extend the survival of those affected by it?
  13. What are the side-effects of ARVs?
    There is a wide range of serious side effects dependent on the type of ARV drug.

  14. Can ARV drugs cause immune deficiency and AIDS-like symptoms?
    Yes, they can. ARV drugs pose the risk of drug-induced immune deficiency. As explained above, ARVs are known to damage the bone marrow and impair the formation of immune cells. This can further weaken the immune system and aggravate immune deficiency and produce AIDS-like symptoms.In this context, the above-mentioned WHO-report from 2001 is important (see above). It can be calculated from that report that the worldwide death (mortality) rate for all HIV positive people (among them a minority who took ARV drugs) was 1.4% per year (assuming that all who developed AIDS died during the same year).About the same time, two uncontrolled surveys (Palella et al New Engl J Med (1998) 338: 853-860Hogg et al JAMA (2001); 286:2568-2577) from the US and Canada about the death rate of HIV positive persons taking ARV drugs were published. The results of these large scale studies showed that the death rate of HIV-positive persons taking ARVs were between 6.7 and 8.8% per year.This means that the mortality rate of HIV positive people taking ARV drugs is four to six times higher than the global mortality rate of the HIV population referred to in the WHO estimate.
  15. Does that mean that while ARV drugs recommended to fight AIDS can not cure the disease they can actually aggravate – or even cause – AIDS?
    Yes, since ARVs can further weaken the immune system, they pose risk for acquiring immune deficiency, the very disease they are meant to treat.
  16. Aren’t the manufacturers of ARV drugs obligated to warn the patients about that fact?
    Yes, they are. By law they have to post warnings of serious adverse side effects on the patient information sheet accompanying every ARV bottle. But these warnings do not speak of “immune deficiencies” as one of the known serious side effects of ARVs. The manufacturers of these drugs mask this fact by using the Latin and Greek names for immune deficiencies, including “leucopenia” (decrease of all immune cells – i.e. white blood cells or leucocytes), “neutropenia” (decrease of an important subgroup of immune cells called neutrophils) and others.
  17. Does the drug industry also use other means to bypass these warnings?
    Yes, it does. Despite warnings of serious side effects on product information sheets, the drug industry bypasses these warnings and finances lobbyists in medicine, the media and politics to promote ARVs as life-saving drugs while no long-term survival benefit has been documented in controlled clinical trials. In the developing world the ARV manufacturers even sponsors organizations that repackage ARVs into little dispenser boxes in order to systematically remove all warning labels associated with ARVs.
  18. Is there a scientific basis for the global marketing campaign of ARV drugs?
    No. ARV drugs are not a cure for AIDS. They have limited effects on virus eradication, patient survival and fail completely to rebuild (reconstitute) the ailing immune system.
  19. Are there other motives for the global promotion of ARV drugs?
    One is obviously the economic greed of the ARV drug companies. The drug industry is an investment industry and its primary focus is the return on investment (profit) not the health of the people. Another motive is to create economic dependency. If governments in the developing world are forced to pay significant portions of their budgets for drugs that are unable to end the AIDS epidemic – then these economies enter a vicious cycle at the end of it only one party wins: Those interests who want to keep the developing world in economic dependency.
  20. If ARVs are so questionable, why are so many organizations promoting these drugs?
    Over a quarter of a century, the only sales argument for ARV drugs was that they suppress the virus, HIV. For that argument to work, HIV has been construed to be the sole cause of AIDS. Other factors such as nutritional abnormalities, which play an important role in the progression of AIDS disease, are ignored. The scientific facts, however, are: ARV drugs merely lower viral load but do not eradicate virus from the body nor do they rebuild the immune system. Moreover, ARV drugs are toxic chemicals that not only affect viruses but also attack all other cells and organs in the body, namely the immune system, thereby aggravating immune deficiencies.To help downplay these scientific facts in the public debate, the pharmaceutical industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars to influence medicine, media and politics – even church and community groups – in many countries. The drug multinationals even finance groups in developing countries that – under the pretext of fighting for the “human right of free access to ARVs” – claiming life-saving benefits of ARVs and irresponsibly propagate “free ARVs for all”. This happens despite warnings on all ARV product pamphlets that these drugs are toxic and are without any scientific proof for expanding the lives of AIDS patients (patient survival) from controlled long-term studies.
  21. Do AIDS patients have nutritional deficiencies?
    Yes, particularly in developing countries most AIDS patients suffer from some from general malnutrition or some form of nutritional deficiency. This includes protein malnutrition as well as specific micronutrient abnormalities (Beach RS et al, 1992Baum MK et al, 1995) involving deficiencies in vitamins (A, B, C and E), minerals (selenium, zinc), amino acids (cysteine) as well as other micronutrients such as glutathione. From the early stages of the AIDS epidemic there have been many studies documenting that these nutritional abnormalities were important factors in the progression of AIDS disease.
  22. Can vitamins affect the HI-Virus?
    Yes. Certain vitamins such as vitamin C have been shown to suppress the multiplication (replication) of HIV in chronically and acutely infected cells. The effect of this vitamin on the inhibition of HIV in these basic research studies (Harakeh, Jariwalla and Pauling, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (1990); 87:7245-49Harakeh and Jariwalla, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1991); 54: 1231S-1235S) was significant and reached more than 99%. In addition, vitamin C has been shown to block activation of the HI-virus from cells that are infected, but do not actively multiply HIV (latently infected cells). Moreover, vitamins and other micronutrients have been documented in clinical studies to suppress virus load in patients. As opposed to ARV drugs, they do so without any toxic side effects.
  23. Which nutrients are important for immune system function?
    Several nutrients are essential to optimum immune system function. Vitamins C, E and the group of B-vitamins are required for optimal blood cell production and immune response. There were no less than 9 Nobel Prizes awarded to the discovery of the health benefits of vitamins, the majority of which for their role in building and restoring the immune system.In addition other micronutrients have also been shown to enhance the immune system. Alpha lipoic acid, the natural amino acid cysteine and its derivative-acetyl cysteine (NAC) as well as the natural trace elements selenium and zinc are essential for the optimum function of white blood cells, including lymphocytes. Scientific research shows that these micronutrients promote the activation and proliferation of the so-called “helper cells”as well as the “cytotoxic T-cells”, both of which play an important role in the control of AIDS.
  24. Where can I get these nutrients from?
    Micronutrients are contained in vegetables and fruits, particularly when they are fresh. Thus, the first measure for anyone to improve their immune system is to regularly eat fresh fruits and vegetables. This knowledge has far-reaching consequences for everyone, but particularly people living in developing countries. Here the readily available space should be used to start kitchen gardens, school gardens, and community gardens whenever possible.According to a 2002 UNICEF Report vitamin deficiency conditions are one of the leading health problems in the developing world. At the same time infectious diseases and immune deficiencies are spreading in epidemic proportions in these countries. Knowing the connection between the two is essential for successful national and global health strategies.
  25. Which vegetables are particularly rich in these nutrients?
    All vegetables and fruits contain important micronutrients. Particularly rich in immune-enhancing nutrients are green leafy vegetables, berries, cherries, beetroot, potatoes, garlic and citrus fruits. The health value of some of these vegetables and fruits for AIDS patients have been publicly questioned and even ridiculed in the past. Of course, this propaganda campaign distorting the scientific facts about the profound health benefits of certain fruits and plants was no coincidence. This campaign was conducted in the interest of multinational drug companies, to protect their multi-billion dollar investment business with ARV drugs by discrediting effective and safe natural approaches to AIDS. Their motive was obvious: the fewer fruits and vegetables people get, the lower their micronutrient status and, generally, the weaker their immune system and the greater their dependency on ARV and other drugs.The disinformation campaign against natural health and the relentless attacks on politicians and scientist promoting it was part of a comprehensive marketing campaign of multinational drug companies to promoting global sales of their patented ARV drugs.But the time for ridicule is over. The most important biochemical ingredients in these fruits and vegetables have been known for their enhancing effects on the immune system and can be used to help fight the AIDS epidemic – without any toxic side effects.
  26. Are there any scientific studies documenting these health benefits?
    Yes. There are a number of controlled clinical studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that have documented positive benefits of micronutrient supplementation on the health of people affected with AIDS. Among these are prospective studies (Abrams et al., Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (1993); 6: 949-958Tang et al., American Journal of Epidemiology (1993); 138: 937-951) involving HIV-positive persons who had not yet developed any symptoms of AIDS. The results of these studies showed that daily dietary supplementation with various vitamins was associated with a statistically significant delay in AIDS development. Other controlled studies (Herzenberg et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (1997); 94: 1967-1972)Muller et al., European Journal of Clinical Investigation (2000); 30:905-914Kaiser et al., Journal of Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (2006); 42: 523-528Namulemia et al, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine (2007); 22(3); 129-136Jariwalla et al., Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2008) 14(2): 139-146) involving AIDS patients consuming single, double or multiple micronutrient combinations have documented improvement of the immune system (immune response), of blood antioxidant status, as part of the body’s defense, and of survival. Additionally, studies conducted in HIV-infected pregnant women have shown that a diet supplemented with different vitamins can improve the immune response and significantly extend the time until AIDS symptoms develop.While neither ARVs nor micronutrients are a cure for AIDS, micronutrients – as opposed to ARVs – enhance the immune system. Moreover, while not a single controlled long-term clinical study is available documenting that ARV drugs are actually prolonging the life of AIDS patients, such studies (Herzenberg et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (1997); 94: 1967-1972Jiamton et al., AIDS (2003); 17: 2461-2469) exist for micronutrients documenting the extended survival time of AIDS patients. Thus the promotion of micronutrients is the only responsible strategy to increase the time needed for the international research community to find a definite cure for AIDS.
  27. Are there any community health programs that support the benefits of vitamins and other micronutrients in people living with HIV infections or AIDS?
    Yes. A nutrient community health program involving nearly 1000 people living with AIDS in South Africa has shown that micronutrient supplementation significantly reduced the key symptoms that define AIDS, i.e. fewer, excessive coughing, weight loss, infections and other symptoms associated with AIDS such as sweating, lymph node swelling and many others, thereby leading to a significant improvement of the quality of life. Now that this community health program has shown good results in South Africa, it can now be adopted by communities around the world. Details of this program are documented here (PDF 530kb).
  28. Are there any specific ingredients in beetroot that are scientifically proven to fight AIDS?
    Beetroot is a good source of vitamins A, B, C, minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, which are present in multivitamin or multi-micronutrient preparations, shown to be beneficial in fighting AIDS. The micronutrient ingredients of beetroot have been shown in scientific studies to have a multitude of health-related effects (Webb AJ et all, Hypertension, 2008Tesoriere L et al, 2005) including: decreasing inflammation (anti-inflammatory properties), natural inhibition of cancer cells (non-toxic cancer chemoprevention), inhibition of blood platelet aggregation (anti- coagulative effect) and prevention of oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (antioxidant effect), two mechanisms involved in the development of cardiovascular disease.
  29. Are there any specific ingredients in garlic that are scientifically proven to fight AIDS?
    Yes. Garlic is rich in B-complex vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, folic acid, minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, zinc and phytochemicals such as beta carotene, cysteine, and quercitin, to name some specific ingredients important in fighting AIDS.
  30. Are there any specific ingredients in citrus fruit that are scientifically proven to fight AIDS?
    Citrus fruit is a strong disease fighter containing high levels of vitamin C and significant amounts of folic acid, beta carotene and other antioxidants. It is also rich in Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, and Iron. Citrus fruits are rich in flavonoids that protect against oxidative damage, a disease mechanism linked to inflammation and many other disease conditions. In addition, the micronutrients contained in citrus fruits have been shown to support immune function (immunomodulation of human blood mononuclear cells) and increase CD8 T cells, a cell type also critical for AIDS patients. Moreover, the natural ingredients of citrus fruits have been shown in various studies to inhibit the development of cancer (tumor suppressor effect) and reduce the rate of cancer.
  31. What should responsible politicians do in light of these scientific facts?
    Every responsible decision taker should undertake a series of fact checks:First, consider the scientific facts. They are:

    1. ARVs are neither a cure for HIV nor AIDS. This information is required by law to be part of the patient information leaflet of every single ARV drug package.
    2. There exists not a single long-term controlled clinical study documenting that ARV drugs are life-saving or even life-prolonging for AIDS patients – even after two decades of global ARV drug promotion.
    3. ARVs drugs have severe toxic side effects, including the initiation and aggravation of immune deficiencies, the very disease for which they are being promoted. This information, too, is required by law to be part of the patient information leaflet of ARV drugs. But instead of spelling out the fact that ARV drugs can actually cause “immune deficiency” the ARV manufacturers use Latin and Greek code names for this condition. By doing so, the drug manufacturers apparently hope that neither the patients, nor the public – nor the political decision takers – will comprehend the nature of these drugs.

    The second step every decision taker from the community level to the highest level of government is well-advised to do is to compare the scientific facts of this documentation to the propaganda and false promises of ARV promoters in medicine, the media and even the streets. The conclusions of this comparison should no longer be a matter of private interest. Every responsible politician and every citizen should take an active part in exposing the false and irresponsible promises of the ARV promoters and help to wake up their fellow citizens.

    A third step for everyone realizing the dimension of the harm done by supporting the ARV business is to search for the motives for such an unscrupulous act. On other pages of the Dr. Rath Foundation’s website you may find some valuable answers to that question. For the people of Africa and other developing regions of the world the facts presented there may cast some useful light on the fact that the developing world is a particular target of the global interest groups behind the ARV business.

    Fourth, and most importantly, you have to take a decision how to best help the people affected by HIV or AIDS in your country. Here you have essentially two choices: You can promote ARV drugs knowing now that they cause or aggravate immune deficiencies and thereby accelerate the development of AIDS. Or you can promote measures that help improve the production of white blood cells and optimize their immune function. This can best be accomplished by a diet rich in plant-derived micronutrients. If you chose the second option, then you should promote science-based natural health education as well as the establishment of kitchen gardens, school gardens and community gardens with the goal to improve the health of your people, their families and communities.

Implementing these steps as part of a responsible and science-based public health policy will not be easy. After all, the interests behind the ARV business are ready to defend their multi-billion business with patented ARV drugs and even topple governments to advance their agenda. But all these strategies are bound to fail. While one can fight over ideologies and political opinions, there is one force that can never be overcome: the power of scientific facts.