ATTN HIV Deniers: ERVs are not HIVs. Still.

What is it about ERVs that makes kooks cling desperately to them, like little 'gag-pol-env' life-rafts, as the kooks FAILboats sink into even further obscurity?

I think the general populations ignorance about ERVs is what kooks find so attractive. Kooks, like Creationists, can say any damn thing they want about ERVs, and Average Joe/Jane doesnt know any better. Some Creationists might be ignorant themselves and actually believe such claims, but Ive corrected Creationists so many times at this point, its frankly hard to believe Creationist Claims about ERVs are anything but purposeful, malicious lying and manipulation.

Same goes for HIV Deniers.

Years ago, when HIV Denier Rebecca Culshaw had a job (HIIIIIII BLONDIE!!!! **WAVES**), she tried to pull the 'HIV IZ ERVS!' card. You see, HIV-1 is supposedly a retrovirus, and there are endogenous retroviruses in your DNA, therefore, HIV is a lie.

That is fantastically stupid on so many levels.

1-- There are no lentiviral ERVs in the human genome. We found one in bunbuns. A couple in lemurs. None in humans.

2-- Lentiviruses look nothing like the ERVs in your genome, genetically or structurally. The retroviruses in your genome have been extinct for thousands-->millions of years. HIV is to the youngest ERVs, as Humans are to blue-green algae. Confusing the two is stupid.

3-- Even pretending there is a lentivirus ERV, 'lentivirus' is genus. Each species of lentivirus has its own distinctive features-- equine infectious anemia virus has tat, rev, and S2. FIV has vif and rev. BIV has tat, vif, and rev. HIV-1 has vif, vpr, vpu, tat, rev, and nef. HIV-2 has vif, vpr, vpx, tat, rev, and nef. I have no idea what caprine arthritis encephalitis virus looks like, BUT, the point is, there is a ton of gross genetic diversity in lentiviruses. Not just the actual sequences, but the actual GENES, the sizes of those genes, the way the mRNA is processed, the way the proteins are processed. Even if there were lentiviral ERVs, we would be able to differentiate between an endogenous sequence and a novel lentiviral infectious agent like HIV-1.

4-- Even pretending there is a lentivirus ERV. Even pretending there is a lentivirus ERV that is identical to HIV-1. That does not mean HIV-1 wouldnt be an infectious agent! Mice have endogenous MMTVs. They can also be infected with exogenous MMTVs. Endogenizing a retrovirus doesnt mean you are immune from all members of a genus of retroviruses. Endogeniation isnt immunity. Sometimes its actually detrimental to immunity from related families of retroviruses. Ugh.

Why do I bring up HIV Deniers and ERVs again now?

Cause some random asshole just issued a 'press release' for his 'article' in the conservative rag FOR REALSIES JOURNAL, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons:

Why is it so hard to isolate and purify human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)?

Its not. Its amazingly trivial, thanks to 25 years of reagent and protocol development. Im inventing something to make it even more trivial (technically, its to purify and concentrate pseudoviruses, which are a pain in the ass, but it could be used for regular HIV-1 viruses too).

Why has no one been able to see, by electron microscopy, a single HIV particle in the blood of AIDS patients, even those who have a "high viral load"?

Youre a fucking retard.

Why does HIV seem to mutate with startling rapidity?

It doesnt 'seem' to mutate. It actually mutates via an error-prone reverse transcriptase and recombination. This is very trivial shit, here.

AIDS researchers have not been able to come up with answers to these questions.

Well, Im not an AIDS researcher, Im an HIV-1 researcher, but Im pretty sure I just 'came up with' answers anyone who gave a rats ass could find via TEH GOOGLE MACHINE.

HERVs--human endogenous retroviruses--might provide explanations that have been overlooked for 20 years, writes Professor Etienne de Harven, M.D., in the fall 2010 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. HERVs are present in all of us, and fragments of their DNA may be confused with HIV in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests used to estimate viral load.

I have dozens of HIV-1 primers. I have never gotten a positive mock (uninfected cells) ever. HIV-1 looks like nothing in your genome.

About 8 percent of the human genome consists of sequences incorporated from retroviruses. When cells break down, DNA fragments are released into the circulation--including these viral sequences. Patients with clinical AIDS carry a large spectrum of infectious diseases, so a high level of circulating DNA is expected.

Infected cells die via apoptosis. Free-floating DNA should NOT be present. Free-floating DNA is a sign of NECROSIS. Last I heard, HIV/AIDS patients die from complications due to secondary infections, not because their lungs/legs/stomach/hearts/brains were rotting. Christ this is basic fucking biology, man.

Alternate hypotheses need to be objectively assessed, and conclusions must be based on scientific evidence rather than consensus.

Then you better get back to the drawing board, Professor Etienne de Harven, M.D, because your 'alternate hypotheses' are based on your ignorance and stupidity, not science.

There is an actual 'article' attached to this press release. It looks as if it were written when I was in kindergarten. Science has moved forward-- this mans brain has been frozen in time for 20 years. Reminds me of someone else...

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Well, very slight nitpick, but I think it's not entirely unreasonable for some person somewhere today to have (obviously disabled) HIV as an ERV. I mean, you're absolutely correct that absolutely zero ERV's that are fixed in the human genome of even a significant subset of the human population. But there may still be a few HIV-infected persons that had children with a failed HIV insertion in the germline, and also managed to survive. I don't know how likely it is (it may be fantastically unlikely, I'm not sure). But it's at least conceivable.

Yeah, she's absolutely a flaming nutbar, as this tiny nitpick obviously doesn't help her point any, or damage yours.

By Jason Dick (not verified) on 03 Sep 2010 #permalink

Why has no one been able to see, by electron microscopy, a single HIV particle in the blood of AIDS patients, even those who have a "high viral load"?

The paper you are quoting to answer this is showing HIV particles isolated from cell culture, not from patient blood as far as I can see. I am on your side on this but strictly speaking the paper doesn't address the question, no matter how idiotic the question might be.

Remarkable information even for the biologically illiterate. Thanks Abbie.

Jason-- There is no evidence that HIV-1 (or its relatives) have endogenized in humans or non-human primates. Lentiviral ERVs, for the most part, dont exist. I mean, out of billions and billions and billions of ERVs out there, weve found three that are lentiviruses... after like, actively looking for them. :-/ So there has to be something about their biology that just doesnt favor this already random process.

beebeeo-- Nooo... One of the figures and two of the videos are from Jurkats (a T-cell line), but everything else is in primary macrophages. ...? You mean you want HIV(+) macrophages isolated from patients, instead of macrophages that were HIV(+) after isolated? Whats the difference, except the ones infected in the lab are better for science (negative control is uninfected macrophages, can infect with a clonal virus instead of an unknown patient quasispecies, can repeat the experiment with the same virus in numerous patients, etc)

some random asshole

Who doesn't understand how French works.

I think the general populations ignorance about ERVs is what kooks find so attractive. Kooks, like Creationists, can say any damn thing they want about ERVs, and Average Joe/Jane doesnt know any better.

Absolutely true and not only ERVs. Dembski's information theory and Behe's biochemical challenge use the same approach: Hey, I'm a scientist who knows a lot and these are my intentionally obscure and complicated sciency sounding arguments that you don't understand but that's ok because you're not a super scientific evil genius like me so just trust me and swallow them and copy and paste them in blogs' comments section okay? That's why we need actual scientists like ERV and MarkCC to disembowel them while laughing histerically.

Also, what's this about isolation? Every denier I've ever met has said me HIV-1 hasn't been isolated. I ask them how are you supposed to do that and they tell me they don't know. Could anyone give me any trustworthy link to some introductory reading? Is this one any god?

It's sad to see that someone with a distinguished publication record (from the google scholar search) ends up with as a leading entry in regular google.

Ah, interesting, erv. I guess an obvious possibility might potentially be just that lentiviruses tend to not be good at infecting germline cells. It would seem to strain credulity that they actually do infect those cells routinely, but somehow are that consistent at killing the cell they infect that they almost never endogenize.

By Jason Dick (not verified) on 03 Sep 2010 #permalink

I just wanted to point out that deHasshole's paper cites Doucheberg as a credible source. Nuff said, really.

By theshortearedowl (not verified) on 03 Sep 2010 #permalink

Hey, Erv, can I make a pedantric point here about HIV/AIDS Denialists?

While I am neither a virologist nor a microbiologist, and my knowledge of such comes from 1) Reading the CDC's website since I was a child and 2) Various EMS, Nursing, and Microbiology textbooks, I do know one thing for sure:

I'm not going to take anyone seriously who still cannot functionally express that they know the difference between AIDS and HIV. And that seems to be a critical problem with the AIDS denialist crowd. While AIDS -IS- Caused by HIV, HIV is not AIDS.

By Chance Gearhea… (not verified) on 03 Sep 2010 #permalink

Ah an MD;
That's basically equivalent to bicycle repair man on steroids..

By rijkswaanvijand (not verified) on 04 Sep 2010 #permalink

Nice fisking there Erv.

I sometimes wonder at how the HIV/AIDS denialists continue given how often they have been proved wrong and how many of them have died of AIDS in recent years, perhaps now that South African policy on AIDS has rejoined the real world they'll slowly fade away (we can all hope!).

To be honest as soon as I red that the paper in question was published in JPANDS I knew pretty much everything I needed to know, but thanks for taking the time to show exactly what is wrong with it.

@ERV #4

It's not only that there is no evidence that no primate other than the Madagascar Lemurs has an endogenous lentivirus. More importantly is all the evidence (complete genomes of human, chimpanzee and several other primates are now complete, Southern blots have probed the genomes of many more) that none of them have an endogenous lentivirus. As they say, absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence, but in this case we have an abundance of the latter.

We also have much evidence, including the ancient age of the Lemur viruses, to indicate that primates have been widely infected with lentiviruses and primate T-cell leukemia viruses for at the very least hundreds of thousands of years and much more likely several millions of years. Millions of animals infected for millions of years and just one or two events (the Lemurs of Madagascar). It is thus not impossible, but very very very very highly unlikely that a human would get a germ-line infection in the 20 or 30 years that HIV has been widely spread in humans, and even less likely that it happened earlier when only a few humans were infected before the global pandemic took off.

"HIV-1 looks like nothing in your genome."

Clearly HIV is not a HERV. Denialists have been trying to claim this for some time. As I recall though wasn't there a study using low stringency Southern Blotting that did detect two (short) sequences similar to HIV, the shortest of which (only about 30bp) had a ~95% similarity to part of HIV's genome?

Obviously this does not mean HIV is endogenous but at the same time it does look like a little chunk of something in our genome.

I'm just trying to be as accurate as possible for the sake of science. I love your blog, ERVs have been a favorite subject of mine for a long time =)

By Poodle Stomper (not verified) on 13 Sep 2010 #permalink

The link to that paper is here, by the way. Sorry I forgot to include it in the previous post.

By Poodle Stomper (not verified) on 13 Sep 2010 #permalink

Hey Erv,

I quote one of the worlds leading EM specialists, Dr. Etienne deHarven, who tried for several years to get an EM photo of HIV from the "purified samples" of blood of hiv positives:

"Why has NO ONE been able to see, by electron microscopy, A SINGLE HIV PARTICLE taken DIRECTLY from the blood of AIDS patients, EVEN from those patients who are said to have a "high viral load"?

And spare us the flakey Jurkat photos, please, as well as the ones that are just assuming they are picturing HIV.... just show us one EM picture taken directly from the blood of an HIV poz that is anything that is VERIFIED to be what is commonly called HIV.

This simple request should be easy enough. After all, there ought to be hundreds of such EM photos now that we are 26 years beyond the initial "discovery" of hiv.

But you can't do it, can you Erv? And it is obvious why not. After all, Gallo's gang couldn't do it. His EM specialist told Gallo all he could find in Gallo's samples was cell debris.... In Gallo's '84 paper in Science, Gallo later admitted his accompanying EM came from Montagnier's lab. But wait a minute! What about Montagnier's photo? Well, it turns out that Montagnier couldn't do it either! (he came up with particles all varying by different sizes in his so-called "purified" virus and even later admitted "I repeat, We did not purify"). And not a single other lab has ever done it either, unless you have some information that the rest of us are not privy to.

So no more BS Erv, show us that EM picture of Isolated and Purified HIV retrovirus that has been taken directly from the blood of any HIV positives. And not some pic of some cloned debris passed to Jurkats, or some other BS photos of mix and match lab goo. And not some computer rendering. But real, verified, purified and isolated HIV taken DIRECTLY from the blood of hiv positives.

And none of those unverified "stock photo" shots, that litter the internet and wikipeadia either. After all, anyone could take a picture of any old rock and just say it is a moon rock taken from the moon. But just saying so don't make it so, now does it?

So do show us that EM picture, Erv. And don't keep us waiting, cause we've been waiting 26 years already for it.

And until you do come up with that EM photo, I can't resist asking.... Just who is the fucking retard, Erv? Could it be the one you see in your mirror?

I completely agree with your opening statement, Erv:

"What is it about (the blogger) ERV(s) that makes kooks cling desperately to them (her), like little 'gag-pol-env' life-rafts, as the kooks FAILboats (of false beliefs about hiv) sink into even further obscurity?

By EM specialist (not verified) on 17 Sep 2010 #permalink

Dude, I see your IP# when you comment. At least switch to a different wi-fi network if youre going to sock-puppet.

I love the demand for "EM picture" and "not some computer rendering" in one paragraph. Gotta make those demands ignorant and incoherent as well as stupid.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 17 Sep 2010 #permalink