“The important thing is to not stop questioning.”- Albert Einstein
Mention HIV and a good many people will think, “a sexually transmitted virus” or “virus-contaminated needles,” and perhaps even “a virus that can cause a devastating disease.” More than likely, the public strongly associates the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is considered to be the final stage of HIV infection. A person infected with HIV is diagnosed with AIDS when he/she has one or more opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, and when the number of CD4 T cells in the blood is dangerously low. CD4 T cells are a sub-type of lymphocytes or white blood cells important for establishing and maintaining the immune responses to substances recognized as foreign by the body.
Thirty years have passed since HIV/AIDS entered the public lexicon, and HIV continues to absorb global attention and funds. There is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection nor is there a cure for HIV/AIDS. Moreover, it is still not fully understood how HIV causes AIDS. Yet a HIV-positive test is no longer the death sentence it once was. The longer lifespan of patients with HIV infection has been primarily attributed to treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy. HIV-positive and antiretroviral-treated individuals are now aging and developing accelerated chronic diseases that often accompany aging, such as heart disease, renal disease, and cancer.
In 1983, HIV was officially identified as the cause of AIDS, but not all of the scientific community accepted the pronouncement or the data that led to it. Dr. Peter Duesberg and Dr. Kari Mullis represent two of the more renowned scientists who are vocal critics of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. Recently, Nancy Turner Banks, M.D., M.B.A., who is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a 25-year practitioner of general obstetrics and gynecology, joined the ranks of people coalesced in active dissent of the HIV/AIDS dogma. For several years, Dr. Banks lived in Maryland where she wrote and lectured on health and wellness; she now resides in Mexico. In her book, AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire: the deadly virus of international greed (2010), Dr. Banks details the thinking process and research from which her conclusions are derived.
This article serves as an introduction to a three-part interview with Dr. Banks who expounds on her understanding of immune deficiency and challenges the HIV theory of AIDS. The interview was conducted by the writer via telephone and e-mail.
QUESTION: Dr. Banks, would you provide some background of the HIV/AIDS story?
This theory put forth by Gallo [Robert C. Gallo, M.D.] was raised in the historical context of what was happening to the gay community in the late 70s and early 80s. There were multiple life style factors that were simply ignored in order to promote one theory. The theory presented in the journal Science was that there was a “probable” virus (HTLV-III later called HIV) that was attacking and destroying a subset of lymphocytes called CD4+ T cells. It was the decrease in the T cell population that led to the syndrome. So the paradigm was not HIV equals AIDS, but HIV equals acquired immune deficiency (AID), and AID was defined as a decrease in T cells; the decrease in T cells eventually would lead to the Syndrome. They [Gallo’s team] never initially said that HIV causes AIDS—the media did that for them so it became a mantra “HIV/AIDS.”
PART II coming up.