Five myths about AIDS that have misdirected research and treatment

  • Robert S. Root-Bernstein
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Genetics and Evolution book series (CIGE, volume 5)


A number of widely repeated and factually incorrect myths have pervaded the AIDS research literature, misdirecting research and treatment. Five of the most outstanding are: 1) that all risk groups develop AIDS at the same rate following HIV infection; 2) that there are no true seroreversions following HIV infection; 3) that antibody is protective against HIV infection; 4) that the only way to treat AIDS effectively is through retroviral therapies; and 5) that since HIV is so highly correlated with AIDS incidence, it must be the sole necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS. A huge body of research, reviewed in this paper, demonstrates the falsity of these myths. 1) The average number of years between HIV infection and AIDS is greater than 20 years for mild hemophiliacs, 14 years for young severe hemophiliacs, 10 years for old severe hemophiliacs, 10 years for homosexual men, 6 years for transfusion patients of all ages, 2 years for transplant patients, and 6 months for perinatally infected infants. These differences can only be explained in terms of risk-group associated cofactors. 2) Seroreversions are common. Between 10 and 20 percent of HIV-seronegative people in high risk groups have T-cell immunity to HIV, and may have had one or more verified positive HIV antibody tests in the past. 3) Antibody, far from being protective against HIV, appears to be highly diagnostic of loss of immune regulation of HIV, and some evidence of antibody-enhancement of infection exists. 4) Non-retroviral treatments of HIV infection, including safer sex practices, elimination of drug use, high nutrient diets, and limited reexposure to HIV and its cofactors have proven to be effective means of preventing or delaying onset of AIDS. 5) Many immunosuppressive factors, including drug use, multiple concurrent infections, and exposure to alloantigens, are as highly correlated with AIDS risk groups as HIV. These data are more consistent with AIDS being a multifactorial or synergistic disease than a monofactorial one.

Key words

AIDS progression HIV seroreversion HIV vaccination behavioural risks etiology 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Root-Bernstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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