PLAGUE - Why the Pediatric AIDS Unit at the University of California, San Francisco is Responsible for this Book
A retrovirus in autism? You mean, like HIV? That autism might be a non-fatal form of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)?
Let me explain how I came to co-author the book, PLAGUE: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases, with Dr. Judy Mikvoits.
On October 8, 2009 Dr. Mikovits appeared on a show called Nevada Newsmakers to talk about her recent publication in the journal Science showing an association between a recently discovered retrovirus, XMRV, and patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (more accurately myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS). In the interview she also talked about the possible implications for autism, as they had been finding evidence of the retrovirus in these children as well.
Mikovits said, There's always the hypothesis that my child was fine, then they got sick, and then they got autism. Interestingly, on that note, if I might speculate a little bit. This might explain why vaccines lead to autism in some children because these viruses live and divide and grow in the lyphocytes, the immune response cells, the B and T cells. So when you give a vaccine you send your B and T cells into overdrive. That's it's job.
Well, if you're harboring one virus, and you replicate it a whole bunch, you've now broken the balance between the immune response and the virus. So you could have had the underlying virus and them amplified it with the vaccine and then set off the disease, such that your immune system could no longer control the infections and create an immune deficiency.
Okay, that got my attention.
I didn't know much about retroviruses at the time so I called the UCSF Pediatric AIDS unit and got their press representative. I sketched out the basic idea of the theory, that kids with autism might have an HIV-like retrovirus and that explained their autism. I didn't even mention the "V" word.
But the press representative did.
Almost immediately he said, "Oh, if these kids have a retrovirus that would explain how a vaccine could lead to autism", citing something similar to what Mikovits had said in her interview, which is apparently common knowledge in the retrovirology field about the replication of these viruses.
In fact, I was able to go onto the UCSF AIDS website and read the following passage. Acitivation of the cellular immune system is important in the pathogenesis of HIV disease and this has given rise to concerns that the activation of the immune system through vaccinations might accelerate the progression of HIV disease . . . These observations suggest that activation of the immune system through vaccinations could accelerate the progression of HIV disease through enhanced replication . . . If feasible, it is preferrable to have patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) prior to receipt of vaccination . . .
Do you understand now why I knew I was onto the scientific story of the century? And can those of you who are long-time veterans of the autism wars understand the peril in which Dr. Mikovits was placing herself by saying these things?
If these assertions were true, it changed not only the science of autism, but the politics as well.
They tried to stop Dr. Mikovits by destroying her scientific reputation, her career, and her livelihood. I knew that writing PLAGUE might prevent them from succeeding in the destruction of an honest and courageous scientist, and turning the tide of battle in our favor.
And I owe it all to the Pediatric AIDS Unit at the University of California, San Francisco. How's that for being an anti-science parent?
Kent Heckenlively is a Founding Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and co-author with Dr. Judy Mikovits of Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases. Release date is November 18, 2014. Visit his website at Plague The Book. You can order the book HERE.