“Read your article, "Why I Quit HIV". AIDS is simply advanced or end stage HIV disease. Period. Nothing more, and nothing less. Its artifical [sic], and only a classification. It really doesn't seem that you understand that distinction.”
If there were ever a term that made even less sense than the ephemeral AIDS, it would have to be HIV disease. To the best of my knowledge, this term was coined partly to be able to apply to anyone who happened to test positive for HIV antibodies but didn’t necessarily have an AIDS-defining disease or an abnormally low CD4 count, and partly to cement the connection between HIV and any disease.
But HIV alone causes no disease – even by official orthodox definition, unless we have taken to including an inverted CD4/CD8 ratio in the “disease” classification, rather than what it is – a laboratory anomaly that may indicate or foreshadow disease. And when one looks a little bit closer, not only does HIV disease begin to seem just as vacuous as it really is, but the idea of AIDS as a properly defined syndrome also begins to fall apart.
The acronym AIDS was introduced to replace the previously used pejorative term GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency). Regardless, AIDS remains to this day a government-defined syndrome with, simultaneously, no specific clinical symptoms of its own yet a myriad of indirect illnesses and symptoms supposedly “caused” by the immune suppression—really quite a clever idea, since essentially everything is a symptom.
To really understand the paradoxical nature of AIDS and “HIV disease”, it is germane to consider the very reason that the distinction of a clinical syndrome exists in the first place. To define a clinical syndrome is useful when initially attempting to better understand what might be the causative agent of said syndrome. (It is important to bear in mind, too, that most syndromes actually consist of a collection of interconnected symptoms rather than of disparate diseases.)
Plainly speaking, one designates a syndrome before one has any knowledge of the precise molecular mechanism of pathogenesis underlying the set of symptoms. Defining the clinical syndrome enables public health authorities and physicians to narrow the scope of their investigation to factors common to all those people in the epidemiological cohort among which the syndrome is manifest. A clinical syndrome is useful when it illuminates a causative agent of a disease, and this identification ideally has the effect of narrowing the scope of the clinical syndrome. That is, as we know more about what causes the syndrome, the number of symptoms under the syndrome umbrella should become smaller as we identify and throw out those that clearly do not fit the pattern.
AIDS is peculiar historically in that the definition of the syndrome actually became more expansive after the alleged causative agent was identified. This is contrary to all logic and counter to the reasoning that underlies the existence and usefulness of the clinical syndrome designation in the first place. Moreover, these expansions make it very difficult to properly analyze epidemiological data. As the definition expanded and as it became more and more clear that HIV did not do at all what it was purported to do—that is, kill CD4+ T-cells by any detectable method—researchers began to invent more and more convoluted explanations for why their theory was correct. The logical, scientific thing to have done would have been to notice that their original disease designation did not accurately identify the causative agent or agents and, rather than changing the syndrome, reconsider the supposed causative agent(s) and try to find one that explained the observations better. As we know, this has not happened.
Even a diagnosis of HIV-positive accompanied by no clinical symptoms at all can result in an individual’s inclusion under the umbrella of AIDS, which flies in the face of the very reason for the designation of a syndrome as a set of clinical symptoms. In another major lapse of logic, the classification of HIV-free AIDS, “Idiopathic CD4+ Lymphocytopenia” or ICL for short, was introduced in 1993 to actually exclude from the AIDS designation people who were free of any trace of HIV but still had symptoms that would ordinarily result in their being classified as having the syndrome AIDS.
So what, then, is “HIV disease”? It is a vacuous classification, because it does not mean any sort of disease or even a set of symptoms necessarily. As far as I can tell, “HIV disease” means “testing positive on an HIV test”, perhaps accompanied by any type of lowered immunity – as though anyone in the general population does not suffer from lowered immunity from time to time. As far as I can tell, the entire reason for the term “HIV disease” is just in case anyone dares to think for a moment that HIV really has little to do with disease at all. Once again, no hope is allowed.
So it would appear that “AIDS” and “HIV disease” are not, in fact, the same thing, as my concerned e-mailer pointed out, unless of course one takes them both to signify “meaning nothing and everything at once”.