Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The OPV AIDS Debate

In 1992 Tom Curtis proposed a theory, called the OPV AIDS theory, which asserts that scientists testing Oral Polio Vaccines in the middle to late fifties in the Belgian Congo may have inadvertently created AIDS by using biological material harvested from chimpanzees infected with SIV, the simian immunodeficiency virus. Scary shit if it's true, but apparently it's not. Scientist have looked at the SIV virus endemic to the chimps in the area and have found, "SIVcpz is indeed endemic in wild chimpanzees of this region but that the circulating virus is phylogenetically distinct from all strains of HIV-1, providing direct evidence that these chimpanzees were not the source of the human AIDS pandemic."
I'm no doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but it seems to me that if the Oral Polio Vaccine were the culprit many, many more, if not all, of the people who took the OPV would have developed AIDS. This didn't happen. Besides, the way these vaccines were allegedly developed is that they were created in relatively small amounts on site, which were then sent abroad for further development into yet more vaccine. So if one drop of the starter culture is infected, every subsequent milliliter of vaccine will also carry that infection. Unless the biological media used to create the new vaccine is the source of the contamination, which is not what is alleged.
There are two ways in which a Simian retro virus can infect a human, you either have some sort of contact with a simian, which people outside of Africa rarely do or you are exposed to the simian virus through a vaccine, which happens whenever you take a vaccine developed in simian biological media. Since the SIVcpz of the chimps in question is phylogenetically distinct from all strains of human HIV, the simian - human transmission must have happened the old fashioned way, humans eating chimps, the mode of cross infection most of the medical establishment believes to be the culprit.
This question needs to be addressed fully, openly and honestly by all parties involved because it is imperative that people all over the world have confidence in life saving vaccines. Polio is on the verge of being wiped out the way Small Pox was, the few remaining hot spots are in Africa where the local populations are leery of the safety and efficacy of Western proffered vaccines. With stories like this who can blame them?

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