There is some controversial new research surfacing that contradicts what science has believed for decades about AIDS and HIV. And this new information may have an impact down the line on other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's, fibromyalgia, Crohn's disease even lupus and psoriasis.

First What Is AIDS?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Until this recent research AIDS was accepted as being caused by the virus known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. HIV attacks the body's immune system – its defense against infection and disease – and weakens it over time. A person who has HIV gradually loses the protection of the immune system and begins to experience health problems. These may be fairly small problems at first – skin problems or yeast infections – but over time the illnesses become more serious. The amount of time that it takes HIV to begin to affect a person's health varies widely from one individual to another. When a person is diagnosed with one of the serious illnesses or cancers that are AIDS-defining, the person is then said to have AIDS.

The HIV Virus

HIV attacks the immune system mainly by damaging the T4 or T-helper cells that help the body fend off disease. T-cells are one of the many avenues that the immune system has for the protection of the human body against disease. T-cells work by either killing a foreign invader directly by replicating quickly and attacking, or it can release chemicals called cytokines that help boost the energy of other immune system cells. People with HIV can look and feel healthy for many years. The only way to know if they have HIV is from a blood test. This test looks for specific antibodies that are made by the immune system. If the test is positive it means that the person has been infected with HIV.

HIV And The Immune System

The HIV/AIDS virus does not have the ability to replicate on its own. It must hijack its host's cells and use them to replicate itself. The virus does so by attaching itself to a receptor point on the cell. The cells that the virus likes to target most are the immune system's T-cells. Once the virus has taken over the T-cells, the hijacked cells start to replicate anytime a foreign invader enters the body. Unfortunately, the infected T-cells no longer have the ability to fight off the infection. Eventually the healthy T-cells begin to die, the virus-infested cells take over and the body's immune system no longer works. This allows foreign bacteria and viruses to cause damage any where in the body.

A New Line Of Thinking

Peter Duesberg is a University of California, Berkeley, microbiologist and an expert on retroviruses – the family to which HIV belongs. He has questioned the ability of HIV to damage the immune system. This type of virus does not kill cells, he wrote. HIV is merely a passenger virus. As an alternative to HIV theory Duesberg has proposed that widespread drug use – street and prescription drugs – environmental toxins and anti-AIDS drugs like AZT cause the immune system to breakdown.

Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos is a scientist at the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia and one of a group of researchers who propose that cells that are damaged due to cumulative toxic hits, including drugs and infections, can give rise to an ancient retrovirus entwined in human cells. In other words what mainstream AIDS researchers are calling HIV is really the activation of an individual's own genetic material. The body then produces antibodies to this and assaults its own immune cells.

Robert Root-Bernstein is a scientist at Michigan State University and a MacArthur "genius award" scholar who has been extremely thorough in challenging some of the fundamental assumptions of HIV research. His line of reasoning is that many related causes such as multiple infections, malnutrition and drug use combine synergistically to break down the immune system.

How This Applies To Autoimmune Diseases In General

If what these scientists are suggesting is true then HIV/AIDS is an autoimmune disease. And all autoimmune diseases could potentially be prevented, diminished and even sent into remission by avoiding street drugs and pharmaceutical drugs – even over-the-counter drugs – when possible, eating a nutrient dense diet, reducing the body's toxic load and supporting the immune system with natural dietary supplements. Many, many people diagnosed with HIV have made these types of life changes and go on to live long, healthy and productive lives.

Something worth thinking about for all of us.