Sunday, October 3, 2010


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Perhaps it wasn’t sex workers and fast-growing cities that launched HIV onto its deadly global rampage, but well-meaning doctors using dirty needles in the first half of the 20th century. While it’s hard to know for sure today, more than 90 years after the virus emerged, two new studies hint that campaigns to eradicate tropical diseases in Africa might have helped HIV gain an early foothold among humans. The virus jumped from chimps to humans - morphing from simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, to human immunodeficiency virus - in central Africa in the early 1920s. Most likely, scientists speculate, a hunter got infected through a bite or a scratch as he prowled for bush meat and butchered it west of the Ubangi River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. What is still a matter of debate is how a blood-borne disease infecting one or a few individuals in a remote area could ever spread to the more than 33 million people who were infected by 2008, and kill two million of them.

Because the villagers who first caught HIV would be long dead today, Dr. Jacques Pepin, of the Universite de Sherbrooke in Montreal, Canada, decided to use the less-deadly hepatitis C virus as well as another blood-borne virus (human T cell lymphotropic virus 1, or HTLV-1) as models for how HIV could have been inadvertently transmitted by the French colonial doctors treating sleeping sickness. What they found was striking: if a person had been treated for the sleeping disease before 1951, the chances that he or she had been infected with hepatitis C tripled. And HTLV-1 showed a similar pattern. “What happened is that for a long time, the needles and syringes used to administer the intravenous drugs were not single-use,” Pepin told Reuters Health. “There were a lot of patients and not a lot of needles, so the sterilization of needles was not very efficient.”

“This is sort of an example of good intentions gone wrong,” said Dr. Thomas Strickland, an expert in infectious diseases at Baltimore’s University of Maryland. “They were saving lives. They just didn’t know that they were also setting up the pandemic of HIV.” Despite our good intentions, all of us - as conditioned souls - are liable to be contaminated with the fourfold defects of: error, prejudice, inadequacy of sense-organs and tendency to deceive.

Vaisnava philosophers have discovered that all the mistakes we are guilty of making originate from (1) error, (2) inebriation, (3) the shortcomings of our senses and (4) an inclination to deceive others, and by these our boldest and strongest thoughts are lost. (1) We mistake infamy for renown, and ruin for benefit. (2) We misunderstand something when the brightest rays of truth shine in vain upon our mind. (3) The senses we use for observation are always defective and incapable of giving us a perfect view of what we have observed. For instance, when our eyes look at a glass of water, we do not see any germs in the water unless and until a microscope is used. Nor do we see in darkness. (4) A general inclination for deception creeps into our heart when we take a one sided view and establish facts or theories with the greatest assurance. All people are subject to fall victim to these defects. The only exception is God Almighty and His associate counterparts, who remain within the Absolute Truth.

Śrīla Bhakti Saranga Mahārāj :
"God-realization" - "Omnipotent God Beyond Error"
A Lecture Published in English in Śrī Sajjana-tosanī Patrikā,
Vol. IV, No. 11 (June 1959) - Rays of The Harmonist No 13 Karttika 2003
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library -

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