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 AIDS & HIV, Three Decades (30 Years) of Discovery, Research and Biochemical Warfare
© Donald Reinhardt, June 12, 2011
For some, the beginning of AIDS and the story of the  human immunodeficiency retrovirus known as HIV seems quite recent. For others, the same story seems to have happened a very long time ago. It has been three full decades since the first defined AIDS disease report emerged on June 5, 1981 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of the Centers for Disease Control. This printed report was the starting gun that alerted the medical community to the race for understanding, control and a hoped-for-eventual cure of AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Disease.


The understanding of HIV and AIDS has been broad and deep and has involved millions of research hours and billions of dollars. Yet, there is no cure for AIDS. There is no completely safe and effective vaccine for the prevention of AIDS. There is reasonable chemotherapy and control for the disease. There is management of AIDS and there is promise of more advances toward a better end result for AIDS patients throughout the world.


The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta notes that as of June, 2011 AIDS continues to be a pandemic disease that affects people almost everywhere on earth - 33 million people have already died of AIDS including about 600,000 U.S.-AIDS-related deaths. Almost 1.1 million U.S. residents, within a total population of over 300 million, are calculated to be infected and diseased with HIV.

The Biological and Chemical Nature and Features of Viruses – How Viruses Live and Multiply 

And why are viruses, in general, and these HIV entities such a big problem and so difficult to control and cure?


Viruses are all internal pathogens. They live inside of cells and they are unable to provide for all the necessary materials for their own existence and reproduction. Scientists have determined that viruses subvert, takeover, control the flow and direction of materials (biochemicals) needed to make or produce and assemble new viruses. All viruses have these main features: 

·       the ability to attach to specific kinds of host cells and enter those cells. Viruses use protein or glycoprotein surface projections (see embedded figure and artistic rendition below of HIV) which recognize and dock with specific biochemicals on the host cell membranes.

·       the specific instructions (either DNA or RNA) needed to make the special and various proteins that direct and re-direct host cell functions for the biochemical needs of the virus.

·       the ability to direct all the produced viral parts or components to be assembled into the complete virus.

·       the ability to escape or exit from that host cells as dozens, hundreds or thousands of new viral particles (virions) that can survive and then later reinfect other susceptible, host cells.

How are Infecting Viruses Controlled or Killed?

Viruses can be controlled by certain natural and manufactured biochemicals which:

·       block the attachment (docking) of the viruses onto the host cell surface – this prohibits virus entrance into host cells

·       interfere with viral messages or instructions

·       prevent the assembly of complete and infective viruses      

Many modern chemical treatments for HIV infections and AIDS involve the use of cocktails of mixed chemicals– i.e., chemically-formulated mixtures.


How and Why does Viral Chemotherapy Fail?


Viruses can multiply and mutate quickly. When millions of viruses are produced some mutants or genetically-changed viruses may be resistant to these these man-made (synthesized) antivirals. Mixtures of  two or three antiviral chemicals minimize the chances of a mutant's survival since simultaneous viral mutations that protect any one virus against two or three  different chemical agents is very rare. Nevertheless, mutations do occur and occasionally very new resistant and dangerous strains appear. Modern medical practice for HIV involves specialized laboratory procedures to help determine the nature and characteristics of a patient's HIV strains and their resistance or susceptibility to biochemical treatments. New chemicals and treatments are required for those strains that become resistant.

 At this time in June of 2011 – three decades from that initial CDC report detailing pneumonia in 5 immunocompromised male patients – no universal vaccine is available to protect against the disease. Experimental vaccines continue to be produced and tested on primates and various groups of human volunteers. Only time will tell the end result of all the AIDS- and HIV-dedicated efforts. It is noteworthy that no successful, protective vaccine is available also for genital herpes, syphilis or gonorrhea despite the fact that these diseases and their infective pathogens have been known far longer than AIDS and its etiologic agent – HIV.

photo of  HIV – Entire Virion or Virus with Major Components; Credit NIH