The end of AZT?

 Posted by on March 9, 2013 at 9:39 am
Mar 092013

azt tombstone

As I spend time this week with one of my dearest friends, a man who has been HIV-positive since at least 1987, and who has been on ARVs almost continuously since 1990, I am reminded that Affecteds have always had the option to consider alternatives to conventional pharmaceutical treatment. Last night we recalled some of the weird dance steps he had to perform as he traveled across the country in those early years while taking AL-721, an experimental substance derived from egg yolks that required refrigeration, as well as dietary restrictions and timing.

It wasn’t long before the FDA attempted to intervene and restrict access to this harmless, low-cost alternative, while less than a year later permitting truly heinous substances like AZT to be prescribed and marketed, despite some very flawed research trials at the time.

More recently, research supporting something AIDS dissidents have been arguing for years; decades even: that dangerous adverse effects from the use of the most damaging and dangerous classes of AIDS drugs—nucleoside/tide and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs and NNRTIs)—outweighs any benefits. Because they have been around for decades, and are so widely used, these drug classes include some of most familiar, well known and notorious drug names, like AZT, nevirapine and Sustiva.

These were among the first drugs to be trialed and approved for “AIDS” and are sometimes referred to as “DNA chain terminators”. They are also known to damage key components of cellular life itself—mitochondria—and are so toxic that long term use almost inevitably results in organ failure. These are the drugs most likely to be required by the FDA to post the dreaded “black box label” on their packaging, the strongest warning possible, signifying that medical studies indicate that the drug carries a significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects.

While more than two years old now, this fairly accurate, if not completely honest, overview of the limitations of combination, or so-called “highly active” antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can be found on Medscape. I cannot help but highlight for readers some of the kinds of AIDSpeak required of authors if they hope to publish any data that is in any way critical of the drugs. Notice, for starters, that the introduction refers to adverse drug effects as “noninfectious HIV-related comorbidities”, thus blaming the virus, rather than the drugs, for their well documented long-term adverse effects.

This article aims to explore the impact of standard HAART regimens on the different noninfectious HIV-related comorbidities: metabolic, cardiovascular, bone and renal diseases, in order to provide tools to fit the most appropriate antiretroviral combination according to individual clinical conditions.

Before proceeding, the reader must choose to either adapt their brain’s logic processors to accommodate the opening argument that these severe comorbidites, which are caused by HAART, must be managed so the patient can better tolerate HAART, or learn to discard the nonsense, and glean the significance of the otherwise obvious facts that are being camoflaged.

By clicking through the headings on the left side of the page, the reader is led through the not-so-rosy life that a patient with the new, “manageable” chronic condition called “HIV disease” can anticipate… once HAART has “controlled” their virus.

A twofold increase in the relative risk of myocardial infarction (MI) has been observed in the HIV-positive population [on ART] compared with HIV-uninfected patients [not on ART], as well as a three-times greater prevalence of osteoporosis. Furthermore, renal diseases affect HIV-infected people: black HIV-positive patients are more likely to develop chronic kidney failure, and HIV-infected individuals have a decreased glomerular filtration rate and increased prevalence of microalbuminuria than matched HIV-uninfected controls.

It is not until one gets to section 8 of the analysis, titled “Novel ARV Strategies: NRTI-sparing Regimens”, that the authors get down in the dirt about the strongest suspects for the health problems previously ascribed to “HIV”:

Among drugs included in conventional regimens, the tolerability and toxicity of NRTIs are of major concern for clinicians: some older NRTIs inhibit DNA γ-polymerase and induce mitochondrial dysfunction, resulting in plasma hyperlactatemia and a large spectrum of illness: peripheral neuropathy, myopathies, steatohepatitis, pancreatitis, lipoatrophy and renal tubular acidosis.

While Baby AZeTa—my name for the Mississippi baby who was supposedly “cured” of HIV infection recently—has driven all other news from CROI off the news pages, there is a very noticeable shift occurring in how AIDS medicine is being practiced. It is surely more than just coincidence that the 20 years it has taken to publicly admit that NRTIs (the very class of drugs still  being force-fed to babies, btw) might do more damage than good, also just happens to be the number of years that Pharma has been able to maintain patent rights on these old poisons by making slight changes to formulations, or incorporating very old drugs into new combinations.

The AIDS orthodoxy is finally acknowledging, at least in this respect, a message that AIDS dissidents have been in nearly 100% agreement about for 25 years: the NRTI class of drugs, like AZT, are unacceptable options for dealing with immune illness, and should be rejected by patients and clinicians alike.

As someone who rejected AZT and its cousins more than a decade ago, and who is experimenting with low-dose monotherapy (in my case boosted darunavir, a protease inhibitor), a report presented at this month’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2013) caught my eye. Researchers tracking ARV patients for less than year, found that drug regimens that exclude NRTIs altogether are as efficacious at suppressing “viral load” as those cocktails that include them.

As I read this “breaking news” from one of the premier gatherings of AIDS experts, I am mindful as ever of the need to look behind and beyond what is permitted to be presented at the podium of an event that is almost 100% fixated on pharmaceutical treatments, to see what else might be gleaned from the information that is presented.  If I were a cynical sort of guy, I might suspect that even Pharma realizes that they have pretty much wrung as much money out of these old drugs as they can, and that the risk of getting sued for continuing to market such poison increases with every year. Even they seem to know that It’s time for NRTIs to bow out as gracefully and quickly as possible.

If nothing else, sharing these anecdotal recollections, along with reading recent supposedly scientific findings reinforces an important concept:  What was declared with absolute certainty just a few years ago is now in doubt. If HIV-associated immune imbalance—as defined by orthodox standards—can be controlled without a class of drugs once deemed essential, why should we not consider that other classes (perhaps NNRTIs?) might also not be necessary?

Indeed, why stop at eliminating a single class? Even before the research on NRTI-sparing drug regimens reported at CROI got underway more than a year ago, there was already evidence published in peer-reviewed journals showing that protease inhibitor monotherapy works as well as combination therapy in most patients. Findings of efficacy from the MONET trial after 144 weeks—nearly three years!—was published last year, as were 96-week results from the MONOI trial.

As long as “AIDS research” is primarily funded by and controlled by the producers of pharmaceutical drugs, any possible benefits to patients will ultimately always be balanced against benefits to the company’s bottom line. That is just what happens when our medical care system is based solely on so-called “free enterprise”.


  2 Responses to “The end of AZT?”


    An excellent article. Quality, sober writing


    Very useful and interesting article. I want to relate a fairly straight-forward ‘ARV’ story but, in terms of the sheer tripe that ‘HIV’ doctors spout, one that if indicative widely represents an example of the scandal. of a ‘HAART’ regimen – the SOLE purpose of which we are told is ‘viral load’ reduction to ‘undetectable’ levels, variously under 50 or under 20 ‘copies’.
    On the evening of 5 Feb I ‘began’ a 3 class/4 drug regimen consisting of Ritonavir (Norvir)-boosted Protease Inhibitor Darunavir (Prezista); fusion inhibitor Raltegravir (Isentress); and NRTI Emtricitabine (Emtriva).
    After 23 full days of that ‘cocktail’ a plasma viral load test taken early on 1 March produced a result conveyed to me with a ‘unsurprised’ and self-satisfied smile by my ‘HIV’ ‘Specialist’: my ‘viral load’ had fallen from 220,000 to 2-6-3 – yes just two hundred and sixty-three in barely three weeks! ‘That’s Raltegravir causing it to fall so quick!’ offered my ‘Specialist’ at my surprised look. ‘FTC [emtricitabine/emtriva] is good too so added to the PI and the strength of Raltegravir it’s working well.’

    What this specialist DIDN’T know was that not one single solitary miligram of Raltegravir *or* Emtricitabine had *ever* passed my lips! And I had only been taking 1 each of 600mg/100mg of Darunavir/Ritonavir once a day rather than the twice daily recommended.

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