HIV Tests

Sunday 16 April 2017.
 

HIV Tests

Testing for the HIV virus usually involves two separate tests. Both tests do not detect the HIV virus itself, but for the antibodies to the HIV virus present in the blood. The ELISA test is given two times and is a highly sensitive test. Two positive test results are followed by the Western blot test that is less sensitive but more specific. This test is supposed to measure the specific HIV virus proteins in the blood. The HIV virus itself has never been isolated as a entity unto itself and photographed with an electron microscope. Therefore, the two HIV tests are to test for antibodies in the blood to the HIV virus.

The WB is less sensitive than the ELISA but more specific. (Stine, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, p.335)

Both purport to show whether or not a person has been infected by HIV on the basis of detecting the presence in their blood of antibodies to various components of the virus. (Hodgkinson, AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, p. 233)

The combination of the highly sensitive ELISA test for screening (carried out in duplicate) followed by the high specificity of the Western Blot test became the standard procedure for the diagnosis of infection and is still the norm in a number of countries such as the United States. (Schoub, AIDS and HIV in perspective, p.128)

"The routine procedure worldwide (except for England since 1992) for testing for HIV has been to perform a double ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test to check the level of allegedly HIV specific antibodies, and further confirm with a Western blot test. (Shenton, Positively False: Exposing the Myths around HIV and AIDS, p.228)

Direct visualization of the virus by electron microscopy is not used as diagnostic test. Firstly, the virus is rarely found in sufficient quantities in any clinical specimen for it to be visible under the electron microscope, remembering that at least a million particles per milliliter are required for visibility. Secondly, the virus is difficult to recognize in the electron microscope as it does not have a characteristic appearance as do many other virus, and only few highly skilled and experienced electron microscopists are readily able to recognize HIV. (Schoub, AIDS and HIV in perspective, p.139)

In sum, as we inquire systemically into the subject, it appears the makers of the test keep moving further out onto a limb. We learn that the test does not actually identify HIV particles but antibodies to them. But these antibodies were not actually created as reactants to HIV proteins themselves, but to proteins of another virus, which supposedly closely resembling HIV. Still, the antibodies found were not actually reacting only to these supposedly analogous viral proteins, but also to inevitable contaminants. (Nulls, AIDS: A Second Opinion, p. 48)

The debate about the HIV antibody test had been long, complex and anguished. No single diagnostic test in history of modern medicine has had such a momentous impact on the lives of the individuals who rely on it. Since the beginning of the AIDS crisis, people have had very dramatic responses to the test - lapsing into severe chronic depression and anxiety, quitting or losing their jobs, taking very toxic medications such as AZT and ddI, getting divorced, having abortions, taking their lives and sometimes even other people’s lives, - all based, not on diagnosis of AIDS, but merely a positive antibody test.
Given that the test holds such power, its flaws and shortcomings are extremely significant. Unfortunately, it is only now that this immensely important subject is being investigated.
(Farber, The HIV test, p. 343 in AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced? by Peter Duesberg)

To show that an antibody test for HIV is scientifically valid and reliable, the paper said, requires four steps. The first of these is to identify a source of HIV-specific antigens - the protein components f the virus to which antibodies bind. Here, one of the first surprises is that because HIV is extremely difficult - perhaps impossible - to isolate in a clear-cut way, there is no guarantee that the method used really does obtain the virus or its components. I shall be discussing these problems of isolation in a later chapter, but for the moment suffice it to say that the manufactures of the tests do not have unequivocal collection of HIV viruses, visible through electron microscopy, which than can be broken down into their various components. Instead, a multi-step procedure has to be followed involving a variety of assumptions, each of which is questionable. The final assumption is that some material which bands at a particular density (1.116 grams per milliliter) when spun in a centrifuge represents pure’ HIV protein and RNA from which to make antibody test, or which can serve as a template from which to manufacture the proteins. (Hodgkinson, AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, p. 234)

* ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay)

The first test developed for HIV in 1985, the ELISA test, was developed to screen out HIV from the blood supply. It is highly sensitive, and very nonspecific, which means it gives a positive result easily even when there is no HIV present. As many as four out five ELISA tests cannot be confirmed by Western Blot. (Farber, The HIV test, p. 344 in AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced? by Peter Duesberg)

The ELISA test determines if a person’s serum contains antibodies to one or more HIV antigens. (Stine, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, p.332)

The ELISA test relies on antibody detection rather than finding traces of the virus itself because HIV has not been isolated. (Null, AIDS: A Second Opinion, p. 45)

The ELISA test involves incubating a sample of blood serum with a mixture of the HIV specific’ proteins. The ELISA is positive if the solution changes color to a certain density, thereby indicating a reaction between proteins in the test kit and the patient’s antibodies. Because the ELISA is not specific, and can react to non-HIV generated antibodies, most testing authorities strive to eliminate false positives’ by repeating the ELISA test and carrying a further different test called the Western Blot. (Shenton, Positively False: Exposing the Myths around HIV and AIDS, p.228)

The underlying assumption of an ELISA test is that all HIV-infected people will produce detectable HIV antibodies. However, the HI-infected population in general does not produce detectable antibodies for 6 weeks to 1 or more years after HIV infection. Most often, HIV antibody is present within 6 to 18 weeks. (Stine, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, p.332)

* Western blot

The Western blot test is supposed to be able to find which of the HIV proteins are present by identifying antibodies to them. This shows up in a series of bands identifying the presence of a specific set of antibody/protein reactions. (Shenton, Positively False: Exposing the Myths around HIV and AIDS, p.228)

This is a test method in which individual HIV proteins are used to react with HIV antibody in a person’s serum. (Stine, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, p.335)

In contrast to the ELISA test, which indicates only the presence or absence of HIV antibodies, the WB strip qualitatively identifies which of the HIV antigens the antibodies are directed against. (Stine, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, p.335)

Consequently, The Western Blot detects patterns of proteins thought to be specific to HIV. These are specified as ‘p’ for protein, followed by a number which represents a molecular weight. HIV is recognized by proteins p24, p17, gp41, gp120, etc. These proteins have been said to be exclusive to HIV, but Eleopulos and colleagues demonstrate that they are not. (Farber, The HIV test, p. 344 in AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced? by Peter Duesberg)

* Shortcomings and failures of HIV testing

The first and largest problem with testing for the HIV virus is that the HIV virus itself has never been isolated as a entity unto itself and photographed with an electron microscope. Also, there are problems with the tests themselves. One source of error derives from the inability of some manufacturers of the tests themselves to provide uniformly reliable test kits and reagents. A second source of error is that the test kits from different manufacturers will yield different results in testing the same individual. In addition, there have been no standard criteria developed for the tests results. That is, the tests should have the same meaning, positive or negative in all patients, in all laboratories, in all countries. Finally, the tests may yield false positives. The test can cross react with antibodies to other common diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy and hepatitis. False positives may result after taking a flu shot and even with the condition of pregnancy in women.

Although it had never been made plain to the public, experts knew from an early point that there were exceptional problems with the HIV test. Some of these doubts and uncertainties came up at a meeting at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva on 14-16 April 1986, called to discuss the safety of blood supplies and issues related to antibody screen. There were more than 100 participants, from thirty-four countries. (Hodgkinson, AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, p. 249)

Obvious problems with meeting this standard apply as much to the ELISA as to the Western Blot, for while the latter’s reliability is weakened by disputes over which grouping of proteins adds up to a positive assurance that HIV is present, the former’s is weakened by question of whether proteins used to attract antibodies are truly HIV-derivative. However, in relation to the gold standard, these points may almost be called quibbles in comparison to the main weakness of both tests, which goes back to the inability of scientists to isolate HIV. (Nulls, AIDS: A Second Opinion, p. 50)

Eleopulos’s paper was the scientific confirmation for that ground-breaking speech of Stefan Lanka’s in Buenos Aires. Not only did she describe why the proteins said to be specific to HIV were not unique to HIV, but also that even if antibodies to these proteins did show up, they could not be assumed to be a sign of HIV infection. Eleopulos criticized both the ELISA and the Western blot tests. The ELISA antibody test she said, could only be meaningful when it was standardized, that is when a given test result had the same meaning in all patients, in all laboratories and in all countries. But this was not the case and results remained variable because there was no absolute standard. (Shenton, Positively False: Exposing the Myths around HIV and AIDS, p.228-229)

Another source of error derived from the inability of some manufacturers to provide uniformly reliable test kits and reagents. (Hodgkinson, AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, p. 249)

Standards

The Bio/Technology paper specifics the vastly different criteria used by different institutions to interpret the WB test, and point out that an antibody test can only be meaningful when it is standardized, that is when a given test result had the same meaning in all patients, in all laboratories, in all countries. (Farber, The HIV test, p. 344-345 in AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced? by Peter Duesberg)

In the scientific literature, no strips had been published of a standard positive western blot. Interpretations, even with a single kit, left much to the subjective experience of a particular clinician or laboratory. (Hodgkinson, AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, p. 236)

In can be concluded from the criteria set up by different organizations to define a positive result that although the WB may be the gold standard of confirmatory testing, there is no agreement on what constitutes a positive WB test (Miike, 1987). (Stine, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, p.335)

Different countries have different criteria for the number of bands on the Western blot test that are required in order to declare a test HIV positive. (Shenton, Positively False: Exposing the Myths around HIV and AIDS, p.228)

The results of these repeated assays are too detailed to go into in depth, but not only did they vary dramatically within one laboratory and from one laboratory to another, but also the criteria for declaring them positive or negative would have varied from one country to another. Dr. Val Turner in Perth made a study of the different criteria. In Australia, for example, at least four protein bands are required, in Canada and much of the USA three or more and across Africa two will do. So all an African has to do is be retested in Australia where he or she might be found negative.
In other words, individuals can be HIV positive or negative depending on which laboratory or test kit or in which country they were tested.
(Shenton, Positively False: Exposing the Myths around HIV and AIDS, p.29)

False Positives

A major problem with the Western Blot that has never been assessed before is the fact that it cross reacts with other microbes. People who have certain auto-immune disorders, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis for instance, have been known to test positive for HIV even though they are not effected. The Bio/Technology paper demonstrates how the test can cross react with other microbes, including ones as common as malaria and TB." (Farber, The HIV test, p. 344 in AIDS: Virus- or Drug Induced? by Peter Duesberg)

When I interviewed Professor Charles Geshekter, he explained that the most HIV tests (ELISA and Western blot) are known to frequently produce false positive results, because the tests cannot distinguish between HIV antibodies and microbes that are symptomatic of malaria, leprosy, or tuberculosis. (Anita Allen points out, further, Pregnancy is one condition which leads to false positive. (Null, AIDS: A Second Opinion, p. 53)

He mentioned leprosy, malaria, and tuberculosis. Only the last would be found and even that not in great frequency, in the United States. However, another, more frequently encountered disease on these shores, which also fools the HIV test, is hepatitis. (Nulls, AIDS: A Second Opinion, p. 54)

Just as the vaccination against hepatitis will give false positive, the innocuous flu shot will create the same mistaken result. (Null, AIDS: A Second Opinion, p. 54)

To my growing amazement I found out that there was indeed a mass of evidence, pulled together in Eleopulos’s enormous review article, that what had come to be called the AIDS test’ was scientifically invalid. The proteins used in the test kits were not specific to a unique retrovirus. Positive results were produced in people whose immune systems had been activated by a wide variety of conditions, including tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, malaria, malnutrition, and even a course of flu jabs. (Hodgkinson, AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, p. 232)

Unlike other viruses, HIV has never been isolated as an independent, stable product. (Hodgkinson, AIDS: The Failure Contemporary Science, p. 361)

There are no photographs of HIV in isolated state simply because it has never been possible to isolate HIV according to accepted methods. Suffice it to say that a blood test that would identify HIV in the body requires a clear picture of HIV, which could only be obtained through isolation. (Null, AIDS: A Second Opinion, p. 44)


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