Everybody's Talking About Herpes Viruses!
|Tara's even got a picture up of her infection. I have a similar picture of myself, except every one of my pox was covered in pink Calamine lotion. It didn't do much to help the itching, but it sure made me look worse!|
Meanwhile, a gang of HIV/AIDS deniers are pestering her to explain why certain groups of AIDS infected people suffer different diseases than others. At least one answer to their question is a herpes virus.
The herpes viruses are a large group of viruses with over one hundred members that infect a variety of animal species, at least eight herpes viruses call the human species home. These viruses include such "old family friends" as varicella-zoster virus (chicken pox, and shingles) and herpes labialis/HSV-1 (cold sores on the lips and mouth).
The herpes viruses are large (150-250 nm in diameter) and all consist of an envelope, tegument, nucleocapsid and a core particle containing the viral genome of up to 235 kilobases of DNA in a linear double-stranded genome that encodes over 50 viral proteins (compared to 11 for adenovirus= the common cold).
herpes virus nucleocapsid:
162 protein capsomeres in an
icosahedral array with 5:3:2 symmetry
A herpes virus with the envelope, acquired by pinching off a portion of the cellular and nuclear membranes, glycoproteins are visible extending through the membrane.
All of the herpes viruses produce a life-long latent infection in their native hosts. That's right, you never really got rid of the chicken pox after you were infected with chicken pox as a child, the varicella zoster virus retreated to the trigeminal and spinal nerve ganglia at the base of your spine. There, the virus established a latent infection waiting until some time after you turn fifty, or your immune system is compromised, so that it can reemerge as a painful case of shingles (herpes zoster)! Don't you love viruses? (I have it from a good authority working in a herpes virus lab that the degree of painfulness of shingles in the elderly is directly correlated to how sympathetic they were to their own children while they had the chicken pox. So treat those kids nice! Or, better yet, get them vaccinated.)
The herpes viruses replicate through rolling circle replication. I could write a thousand words describing it to you, or you can click through this flash media presentation.
(Here's the thousand words version if you're interested.)
So, you see it's very easy for a latent virus to begin replicating many new viral particles to establish an active infection. (This is one of the false claims I called Coraphor on last week, they claimed that by killing herpes viruses on the skin, the store of latent virus could be reduced, decreaseing the number of viruses able to cause subsequent infections.)
Now, on to the HIV/AIDS denialists. One of the favorite points of Peter Duesberg is that different populations of AIDS diagnosed individuals suffer from different AIDS defining disorders. An excellent example of which is the high incidence of Kaposi's Sarcoma among male homosexuals with AIDS in the US:
"However, the plethora of AIDS diseases was not, and
"the predominant and most distinctive AIDS
"Moreover, the findings that
"In addition, a fast-rising epidemic of volatile nitrite
"Kaposi's Sarcoma is at least 20 times more common among homosexual than among non-homosexual AIDS patients."http://duesberg.com/papers/The%20AIDS%20Dilemma.pdf
So, homosexual AIDS patients in the US suffer from a rare form of cancer, Kaposi's Sarcoma, at a much higher rate than other groups of AIDS patients throughout the world. What could explain this discrepancy? Well, there is the possibility that the nitrite inhalants, "poppers", commonly used by homosexuals in the 80's to heighten orgasm could be weakening the immune system in some way that allows KS to occur, as Duesberg suggests. Or, it could be that a previously unknown herpes virus that can bring on Kaposi's Sarcoma, and is sexually transmitted, is being transmitted along with, before, or after transmission of HIV so that once HIV has weakened the immune system sufficiently, the herpes virus is now free to replicate at will producing Kaposi's Sarcoma. I know, it sounds like just as much hand-waving as Duesberg's doing, until the virus is actually discovered.
(Update: This link actually leads to the abstract for the Science paper where KSHV is first discovered. My apologies to Chang Y, Cesarman E, Pessin MS, Lee F, Culpepper J, Knowles DM, Moore PS.) And it actually does correlate well with Kaposi's Sarcoma not only in AIDS patients, but in other populations as well.
In 2002 Osmond et al. went back and examined samples collected from homosexual men in the San Francisco area in 1978-79 when the AIDS epidemic began. They found infection rates for Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV/HHV-8) of 26.5% while HIV infection at the time was only 6.9%. In 1984-85 KSHV infection was relatively unchanged at 29.6%, while HIV infection had sky-rocketed to 49.5%! HIV infection dropped to 17.6% in 1992-93 while KSHV infection was 26.4% in 1995-96.
So, a herpes virus associated with the occurence of Kaposi's Sarcoma remained present at a fairly constant level in the male homosexual population of San Francisco at the same time that HIV went from a small number, to half the sample size and back down to less than the prevalence of KSHV. What could explain such a thing?
Well, if both viruses HIV and KSHV are transmitted through different froms of sexual intercourse, HIV particularly through recpeptive anal intercourse, and KSHV particularly through receptive oral sex. (Yes, I do mean that the male recipient of oral sex is catching KSHV from the performing partner.) The static levels of KSHV infection, while HIV infection changed dramatically, can be explained by the differential use of condoms during anal and oral intercourse.
Thus, we have a test of the HIV as an infectious virus causes AIDS hypothesis, we also have a test of whether weakening of the immune system by HIV allows secondary infectious agents, that would normally be suppressed by a healthy immune system, to wreak havoc on the human body.
Score: Viruses (2), Duesberg and Denialists (0).
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