Nearly 50 percent of people infected with HIV will eventually develop some form of brain damage that, while mild, can affect the ability to drive, work or participate in many daily activities. It has long been assumed that the disease was causing the damage, but Hopkins researchers say the drug efavirenz may play a key role.On occasion, a little bit of truth--like the words above--escapes from the National Institutes of Health "HIV-AIDS" knowledge monopoly, created by Dr. Anthony Fauci in 1984, when he was named head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Still directing NIAID 28 years later, Fauci's fame as an un-elected bureaucrat is matched only by the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
One of the most media-noticed science bureaucrats in modern American history, Dr. Fauci has had virtual control over all policy decisions related to the American government response to the collapse of immune systems in a subset of urban gay males in the early 1980's. In his NIAID position, Fauci has controlled tens of billions of dollars in "HIV-AIDS" research grants from NIH, spread around the country and the world. He has never allowed one dollar of U.S. taxpayer money to be spent on any theory of "AIDS" other than the single retroviral pathogen theory eagerly advanced by his NIH/National Cancer Institute colleague, Dr. Robert Gallo, in a press conference on April 23, 1984--before publication of any scientific papers claiming that an amorphous immune deficiency disorder noticed among urban American gay males was "probably" caused by a mysterious retrovirus.
Fauci has been the U.S. government's chief proponent of "anti-retroviral" (ARV) drugs, now a $17 billion segment of the pharmaceutical industry (as of the end 2011.)
Thus, it is not often that researchers go off script, and admit that the highly toxic ARV chemotherapy is the real cause of ill health in those said to be "infected" with a retrovirus. "AIDS by prescription," as Dr. Peter Duesberg observed many years ago.
When will this iatrogenic illness madness end?
“People with HIV infections can’t stop taking anti-retroviral drugs. We know what happens then and it’s not good,” says Norman J. Haughey, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But we need to be very careful about the types of anti-retrovirals we prescribe, and take a closer look at their long-term effects. Drug toxicities could be a major contributing factor to cognitive impairment in patients with HIV.”
For the study led by Haughey and described online in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers obtained samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid from HIV-infected subjects enrolled in the NorthEastern AIDS Dementia study who were taking efavirenz. Researchers looked for levels of the drug and its various metabolites, which are substances created when efavirenz is broken down by the liver. Performing experiments on neurons cultured in the lab, the investigators examined the effects of 8-hydroxyefavirenz and other metabolites and found major structural changes when using low levels of 8-hydroxyefavirenz, including the loss of the important spines of the cells.
Haughey and his colleagues found that 8-hydroxyefavirenz is 10 times more toxic to brain cells than the drug itself and, even in low concentrations, causes damage to the dendritic spines of neurons. The dendritic spine is the information processing point of a neuron, where synapses — the structures that allow communication among brain cells — are located.
In the case of efavirenz, a minor modification in the drug’s structure may be able block its toxic effects but not alter its ability to suppress the virus. Namandje N. Bumpus, Ph.D., one of the study’s other authors, has found a way to modify the drug to prevent it from metabolizing into 8-hydroxyefavirenz while maintaining its effectiveness as a tool to suppress the HIV virus.
“Finding and stating a problem is one thing, but it’s another to be able to say we have found this problem and here is an easy fix,” Haughey says.
Haughey says studies like his serve as a reminder that while people infected with HIV are living longer than they were 20 years ago, there are significant problems associated with the drugs used to treat the infection.
“Some people do seem to have this attitude that HIV is no longer a death sentence,” he says. “But even with anti-retroviral treatments, people infected with HIV have shortened lifespans and the chance of cognitive decline is high. It’s nothing you should treat lightly.”
The study was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA0017408), the National Institute of Mental Health (MH077543, MH075673 and MH71150), the National Institute on Aging (AG034849) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS049465).
Other Hopkins researchers involved in the study include Luis B. Tovar y Romo, Ph.D.; Lindsay B. Avery, Ph.D.; Ned Sacktor, M.D.; and Justin McArthur, M.B.B.S., M.P.H.
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