Much of this article was beyond my comprehension scientifically, but the part about the T-cells was explained to me years ago by my ex, who was involved in AIDS research and is currently working in genetics. What the author writes below about the lack of definition in AIDS was similar to what my ex told me, that the AIDS virus was like a "trickster" virus; everytime it was identified as one virus and combatted, it would "mutate" into something else, defying all possible counterattacks. It could never be pinned down, never definitively defined, and thus, never defeated. The only thing we could hope to achieve is to deal with it as it. (When I hear this kind of talk, I think of a line from Clash of the Titans, in regards to how to defeat the Kraken: "Nothing is invulnerable.") What raises a flag for me in what he told me and what this article argues is his education: we had philosophical disagreements based on my embrace of Objectivism and his leftist education at Temple University. I have a sneaking suspicion that his characterization of the AIDS virus as he was taught is not unconnected to postmodern ideology that defines A as non-A; the same ideology that taught him that Schrodinger's Cat theory meant that reality is subjective and that nothing is better than anything else, just "different." The same ideology that told him deaf people should embrace their deafness as a culture and should not be subjected to the imposition of hearing by those who can (and I though Peter Schwartz was exaggerating in his essay.)
From the article:
"AIDS is said to be caused by a dramatic loss of the immune system’s T-cells, said loss being presumably caused by HIV. Why then could no one agree on how to mathematically model the dynamics of the fundamental disease process – that is, how are T-cells actually killed by HIV? Early models assumed that HIV killed T-cells directly, by what is referred to as lysis. An infected cell lyses, or bursts, when the internal viral burden is so high that it can no longer be contained, just like your grocery bag breaks when it’s too full. This is in fact the accepted mechanism of pathogenesis for virtually all other viruses. But it became clear that HIV did not in fact kill T-cells in this manner, and this concept was abandoned, to be replaced by various other ones, each of which resulted in very different models and, therefore, different predictions. Which model was "correct" never was clear.
As it turns out, the reason there was no consensus mathematically as to how HIV killed T-cells was because there was no biological consensus. There still isn’t. HIV is possibly the most studied microbe in history – certainly it is the best-funded – yet there is still no agreed-upon mechanism of pathogenesis. Worse than that, there are no data to support the hypothesis that HIV kills T-cells at all. It doesn’t in the test tube. It mostly just sits there, as it does in people – if it can be found at all..."