Robert Root-Bernstein

Rethinking AIDS Aug. 1992

HIV-free cases of AIDS are not new. They have been reported in the medical literature since 1986. Cases since 1986 have been verified to be uninfected over extended periods (6 months to several years) using ELISA, Western blot and PCR. Patients have developed low CD4 counts, Kaposi's sarcoma, disseminated candidiasis, disseminated tuberculosis, thrombocytopenia, and other opportunistic infections (Root-Bernstein, 1990, Pers. Biol. Med., 33:480). Cases matching the CDC surveillance definition of AIDS can also be found in the medical literature as far back as 1872, well before HIV is assumed to have emerged (Huminer et al., 1987, Rev. of Inf. Dis., 9:1102).

The number of HIV-free cases is significant. As of 1989, the CDC reported that 5% of all U.S. AIDS patients who had been tested for HIV to that time were HIV-negative. No figures have been reported by the CDC since 1989.

The existence of HIV-free AIDS proves that HIV is not a necessary cause of acquired immunodeficiency. This does not preclude HIV from playing some role in most AIDS cases, but it may also mean that HIV is not the primary immunosuppressive agent in AIDS.

If non-HIV immunosuppressive agents can cause AIDS in HIV-free people, they can also cause AIDS in HIV-infected people. Essentially all AIDS patients have several immunosuppressive risks concurrently. The public acknowledgment of HIV-free AIDS makes it untenable not to reconsider the idea that these agents are themselves sufficient to cause AIDS. It is unlikely that a new, previously unknown virus related to HIV is the cause of HIV-free AIDS. Given the amount of work done on HIV over the past years, the possibility that a new lymphotropic virus related to AIDS has been overlooked by almost every laboratory in the world is remote. It is much more likely that HIV-free AIDS cases are due to known causes of immunosuppression that have not previously been considered significant by mainstream researchers.*