and we'll have fun fun fun until daddy takes our t-cells away
September 29, 2003 5:49 PM   Subscribe

smallpox vs. aids: the pandemic smackdown!! Researchers are [very, very cautiously] suggesting there might be a link between the end of smallpox vaccinations in the early 1980s and the rise of HIV. Pinwheel, in the RFID thread: "All I can say is that it's a great time to be a lazy paranoid schizophrenic--modern society is doing all of the work for you."
posted by jengod (24 comments total)
why should i care. First of all i don't know anyone who has died of aids and second of all i'm not sure if i even know of a person who is hiv positive! so there!
posted by carfilhiot at 7:04 PM on September 29, 2003

uh. oh.
posted by quonsar at 7:06 PM on September 29, 2003

Although this sounds like an interesting tidbit of news I think I will wait till it comes from a more reputable source than yahoo! news.
and carfilhiot: I do hope you are kidding.
posted by Raichle at 7:09 PM on September 29, 2003

I do hope you are kidding
I may be kidding, but he's not.
posted by carfilhiot at 7:19 PM on September 29, 2003

he is kidding.

I don't know about this (but i always get my hopes up). HIV struck (and is still infecting) millions of adults who have received smallpox vaccinations. Wouldn't they not have caught it? Or does the smallpox vaccination not work after 20 years? Or is the infection different in younger people (23 and under), who didn't get smallpox vaccinations as children, compared to those who are infected and did get smallpox vaccinations?
posted by amberglow at 7:22 PM on September 29, 2003

Time and again during the AIDS epidemic, people's hopes have been falsely raised by one random scientist (or worse, quack) with a Bright Idea. There's a reason the scientific process is slow and careful.
posted by Nelson at 7:23 PM on September 29, 2003

PS - the title on this post (HTML title tag) is kind of offensive.
posted by Nelson at 7:37 PM on September 29, 2003

The research was based on a hypothesis that the spread of HIV in central Africa coincided with the decline of smallpox. As smallpox was eliminated and people stopped receiving vaccinations in the early 1980s, the AIDS virus began to spread rapidly.

Of course, they should know that correlation does not equal causation.

When HIV was introduced into the blood samples of those who had been vaccinated, the virus either failed to grow or its growth was slowed considerably. The study results were statistically significant despite the small sample size, Alibek said.

At the same time, despite the cautious steps, this seems damn important.
posted by The Michael The at 7:40 PM on September 29, 2003

re: the title bar - I don't think it's offensive. It's a clever rearrangement of a known phrase, and not nasty in any sense to anyone.
posted by The Michael The at 7:41 PM on September 29, 2003


No definitive answer just yet, but an outbreak in Europe infected 11% of people that were previously vaccinated. There are a couple studies in Nature that also suggest that 90% of people vaccinated 25-75 years ago still have basic immunity (but less-so with T lymphocytes, which are the type of white blood cells that HIV infects). It provides "high-level immunity" for 3-5 years, according to the CDC.

I don't know enough specifically about smallpox or the vaccine to know how it would raise the immune system's defenses against HIV (they're two different classes of virii, and they appear to invade cells differently; HIV is a retrovirus, whereas smallpox isn't). I'm skeptical, but hell, we don't even know how a lot of chemotherapeutics work. iIf further research proves it's right, that'd be amazing.
posted by gramcracker at 7:53 PM on September 29, 2003

Folks, do you realize who Ken Alibek is? Read Biohazard, his book about his experience working at the top levels in the Soviet bio/chem weapons programs. The man is very credible on these matters.
posted by crazy finger at 7:57 PM on September 29, 2003

How ironic.
There was a hot, but now discredited theory in the early 1990s that HIV was introduced into the human population in the 1950s while racing to test early smallpox vaccines.
The theory was that vaccine was cultured on simian tissue infected with unknown viruses, one of them ostensibly being HIV.
This now is pretty much the inverse...

(the title bar reminds me of Sebastian Bach's infamous T-Shirt, so, while clever, it is offensive to anyone who is or knows some who's Poz)
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:04 PM on September 29, 2003

it is offensive to anyone who is or knows some who's Poz

I'm sure those millions of people appreciate your speaking for them.

Is it offensive? Certainly to some. It's in poor taste at the top of a serious thread. Point made, let's not let it derail the thread.
posted by jpoulos at 8:15 PM on September 29, 2003

thanks interesting thing from the cdc link that hiv infection is not listed as contraindicated for I presume it doesn't hurt people infected....i'm sure there would be volunteers for a study.
(btw, i'm not offended by the title thing at all--i knew and know tons of people who are positive--it's just a play on words)
posted by amberglow at 8:22 PM on September 29, 2003

crazy finger: Unfortunately, Alibek lost a lot of credibility in the community by shilling "immune booster" products.

The study sounds very, very suspect to me. If this comes out in a first- or second-tier peer-review journal, I'll pay a bit more attention, and will eagerly await a better trial. Until then, this goes in the fringe file.
posted by ptermit at 9:17 PM on September 29, 2003

China, India face Aids disaster
posted by homunculus at 9:33 PM on September 29, 2003

I have to say that black humour is a part of dealing with anything. Until someone walks in here and say's "I'm HIV+ and I'm mortally offended", then stop trying to second guess people.

Back on track, I have to say that it sounds interesting, but we need more information before people start getting excited about things...
posted by twine42 at 1:56 AM on September 30, 2003

Who needs vaccinations? Just keep telling yourself "it will never happen to me" and it won't. But don't just stop with HIV it works for just about anything.
posted by Cool Alex at 4:23 AM on September 30, 2003

I think HIV/AIDS was caused by the insertion of "Under God" in the US pledge.
posted by callmejay at 7:22 AM on September 30, 2003

who's Poz

Oh dear God. Don't tell me there's a hip slang term for being HIV-positive.
posted by kindall at 12:34 PM on September 30, 2003

Both HIV and smallpox use the CCR5 receptor to invade cells. In fact, Caucasian resistance to HIV is related to mutations in the CCR5 receptor that arose under genetic pressure from smallpox plagues. I'm not sure how this explains why a smallpox vaccine would work against HIV however.
posted by paleocon at 3:15 PM on September 30, 2003

Don't tell me there's a hip slang term for being HIV-positive.
there has been for years, as well as a magazine with the name.
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on September 30, 2003

That is pretty disturbing right there.
posted by kindall at 4:44 PM on September 30, 2003

There ya go.

Serves me right, speculating about something when I haven't even had pathology or immuno yet. Oh well.
posted by gramcracker at 5:36 PM on September 30, 2003

« Older Begins with me in a red dress demonstrating...   |   megaman vs. metroid Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments