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Bradford's Essay
On HIV: Science, Medical, Pharmaceutical, Government and Media
Bradford's Essay
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Science, Medical, Pharmaceutical, Government and Media
by Bradford McIntyre



It is important to understand the immune system and what it needs to be able to carry out all its functions. Knowledge is necessary of the cells, the nutrients and all they require to be up and running to maximum capacity. The digestive system and organs all require their own needs be met. The immune system knows how to run the body and keep it healthy. On the other hand, we as human beings may not have been as conscientious. This creates far more for the immune system to handle, when the immune system does not have the proper requirements to provide balance and harmony throughout.

Funding, education and implementation of supplements and complementary therapies in health care is paramount. Nutritional supplements can be introduced into health care quickly and effectively, having positive effects on individuals with illness and disease. As a bonus, there are no toxic side effects and they will not cause immunological problems. We must look to what is causing illness and disease and incorporate natural healing with traditional methods. Understand the immune system, all the workings of the body and when the body conveys immune deficiency! Pharmaceuticals have played an important part in the evolution of how we understand disease and treatment. With the uncertainty of long-term effectiveness of experimental approaches and deaths associated with pharmaceuticals, it is time we validated the successes of people using natural supplements in the fight against HIV and all illness and disease. Supplements can have a major impact on health and can add years to one's life. However, the multi-national pharmaceutical industry is providing information about HIV/AIDS to make money and ensure continued financial success. How long will we continue in this direction and at what cost? Will the cost be the risk of causing illness in healthy people?

There is great hope and inspiration for those able and wanting to try these new treatments but nothing available to people who cannot tolerate the severe side effects of triple and quadruple drug combinations. What about these people? What about the people, and there are many, whose viral loads do not go below undetectable? What happens when viral loads in some go below undetectable and then start to climb right back up again? Others with chronic liver problems due to the toxicity of these drugs are no longer able to tolerate them at all. There is no mention that these people exist and of the limited treatments available to them. What about discovering treatments that would help people for whom these drugs can potentially cause severe side effects, illness and death? This is an area seldom discussed or resolved.

What about people who are not having any form of traditional drug therapy? What about their success with maintaining and improving their health? Society's focus is shifting from the problem, to the search for a solution and prevention. I strongly recommend that the world community embrace this shift and redirect the focus from the negative health condition to the positive solution. Provide education and direct attention to the cause.


There are too few individuals who are unafraid to relate that they have been infected with HIV and who are working to create awareness and education in the many issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. If not in total agreement with the pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession's direction for treating HIV with medications, then, very little attention is given to those who advise nutrition and complementary methods in managing HIV/AIDS! Even the voice of AIDS activists has been lost since many AIDS organizations are receiving funding from both government and pharmaceutical companies. To speak out in support of alternative choices in treatment would upset those who provide the funds and possible removal of support! Specifically, the pharmaceutical companies are affected when too few ways exist for them to make money from many of the complementary methods of treatment.

I was never in agreement with the "hit them hard, hit them early" theory! For years, I wrote letters to all levels of the Canadian government, including all federal and provincial health ministers, and contacted the media in this regard. Along with countless others, I voiced that this was the wrong way to address the HIV situation. Our concerns and opinion were not accepted because science and medicine begged to differ. Now, the "hit them hard, hit them early" is no longer believed to be appropriate or accepted as a line of defense. However, this depends on where you live, because there are still physicians who are putting people on HIV/AIDS drugs just because they test positive for HIV.

There is much debate and concern in regards to combination therapy and protease inhibitors. The pharmaceutical companies promote viral load testing to show that a lower viral load obtained with these combinations actually improves immune function. In some patients, reducing the viral load was successful, but the cd4 count did not go up. Evidence has and continues to show that these drug combinations are toxic to the body. They can suppress immune function and advance progression to full-blown AIDS even while viral load drops to undetectable levels. Some people with AIDS, who take these combinations and have a lowered viral load, are developing life-threatening problems.

Dr. Jon Kaiser says, "Each antiviral drug carries the risk of severe side effects, including nervous system damage, diarrhea, anemia and liver inflammation. These effects can become cumulative over time, exhausting the immune system and risking liver failure. And there's still no proof that any of these drugs completely vanquish HIV, which may continue to "hide out" in lymph nodes and other sites in the body. Most importantly, in its infinite cleverness HIV can gradually become resistant to most antiretroviral drugs, including the prodigious protease inhibitors."

With known drug resistance occurring in any or all combinations, this allows the virus to mutate. This has resulted in the development of a virus for which there is no treatment! Resistant HIV!

Lead researcher Hawke Walter said,"There are an increasing number of patients with multi-drug-resistant viral strains and the therapy options for these patients are extremely limited, in particular due to the high level of cross resistance."

Pharmaceutical companies would have us believe that individuals are living longer solely due to antiretrovirals and protease inhibitors. This is only partly true. There ARE people who cannot tolerate or have not taken any antiretroviral drugs. They are living long and healthy and are full of vitality without the drugs! The mortality rate has come down and the benefits of science and medicine cannot be argued. A major reason for the change in mortality is due to those people who have opted out of standard treatments for HIV. Also, there are large numbers of individuals who are infected but with no illness. These two groups of individuals are ignored by the pharmaceutical companies and left out of studies. Others have undertaken the drug combinations along with incorporating a healthy lifestyle that involves boosting the immune system, often with a positive result. In the richer countries of the world, where food and supplements are plentiful and accessible, individuals are living longer! When infected with HIV and living without the necessities of life, such as clean water and quality food, we have progressive illness and many more deaths. With the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS creating so much fear, we do not have people coming forward to have their voices heard in these matters.

Who is to say that individuals did not benefit from the drugs as much as they did from the hope offered and that they started to take charge of their lives and incorporate generally healthier habits?

"The human being is becoming more and more concerned with immediate remedies, and therefore, having lost interest in finding the cause of his problems, he prefers taking a pill to solve them." Psychiatrist, Arther Kaufman.

For many, it is not until there are no medical resources left, do they then look to see what else can be done and then actively participate in their own treatment.

Science, pharmaceutical companies, the medical profession, government and media are ignoring much of what many people living with HIV and AIDS have to say, which is a major contribution in understanding HIV/AIDS. Myself and countless others who are long time thrivers have learned from each other along the way. All the years that I was HIV positive but not sick, I witnessed every aspect of HIV related illness - every sickness! I watched too many people get sick and too many people die. I came to know individuals who were infected but who were not sick.

A study published by Dr. David Ho of the Aaron Diamond research Center at New York University Medical Center reported, "5% (1 in 20) gay men who had a confirmed exposure to HIV for at least ten years were not showing any indications of HIV disease progression."

From the time I was told that I had "six months to live" by an AIDS specialist in 1985, I learned from other people infected with HIV and included supplements and complementary therapies. These kept me healthy and were responsible for allowing me to address health issues, boost my immune system and avoid going on HIV/AIDS medications for over a dozen years.

It was not that I did not get sick or need medical attention throughout the years, because I certainly did. There were countless doctors' appointments, blood tests at the hospital to keep watch on how my body was reacting to having this virus and more times than I can count trying to fix whatever complications appeared. Throughout these years, large numbers of infected individuals went from a weakened immune system, to no immune system, to one sickness after another, after another. With the advent of newer and better HIV/AIDS medications and a much broader understanding of this illness, individuals have been able to bounce back and have wellness restored with the aid of combination therapies. Equally, throughout everything, sick or well, complementary therapies are a mainstay to address: diarrhea, nausea, neuropathy, irritated skin and rashes, wasting, fatigue, loss of appetite, immunosuppression and more, when it comes to living with HIV. We have learned a much broader understanding of this illness!

After approximately 13 years since diagnosis of infection with HIV, I did become seriously ill. In July of 1998, I developed pneumocystis-carinii-pneumonia, known as PCP. I did not tolerate the medication given me to treat the PCP. My health deteriorated and it looked as though I might die. My only recourse was to try an HIV/AIDS drug combination to boost my compromised immune system enough to fight off the pneumonia. That is exactly what happened. On December 1st, World AIDS Day, 1998, I started my first ever HIV/AIDS drug combination treatment. After just four weeks on the medication, my cd4 count of 40 went up a couple of hundred points; eradicated the PCP and the viral load of several million viral particles went down to thousands. With a reduced viral load, I could once again absorb nutrients. I regained the weight I lost and started to strengthen my body through nutrition, exercise and complementary therapies.

People who knew me were very surprised that I started HIV/AIDS medications. They knew I was very involved in addressing HIV infection through alternative and complementary therapies. Although I was fortunate to have lived 13 years without highly active antiretroviral therapies (HARRT), I was not opposed to them. I was very successful addressing my health concerns without them, but I was aware of the benefits of pharmaceutical treatments and kept myself well informed. I knew there was a possibility of having to go on them one day. It was my hope that I could maintain good health without them, or by the time I needed them that they would be much improved from drugs used in earlier years. It worked out for me in the long run. Without the drug combination therapy, I would not have survived. They saved my life!

Without the availability of these drugs, there would be far more suffering and deaths. Some individuals do not tolerate these medications, as they can be toxic. This is true of the treatments for many people who live with cancer and other illness, but you do not see activists denouncing the use of these life saving drugs. Myself and countless others have gone on to enjoy life, aided by these medications and it is very important to recognize the enormous benefits provided! With any illness, not everyone benefits from the treatments available.

After two years, my HIV/AIDS drug combination began to fail. A genome test showed I was resistant to all the HIV/AIDS medications, even though my only drug usage consisted of AZT for 9 months (years earlier) and the current drug treatment. In 2000, with a resistance to all the existing HIV/AIDS medications, I enrolled in a drug study for a new protease inhibitor, Kaletra. Within the first four weeks on the drug, my cd4 count climbed to 340 and my viral load was undetectable (less than 50 viral particles). Obviously, we are moving forward in the development of more effective drug treatments.

...positive attitudes are not simply 'moods'

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