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THE COMING WAVE (An Interview With Mother Abigail)
| James Oscar
Posted on 12/14/2011 4:59:02 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar
January 22, 2010
Carson City, Nevada
The snow has let up and there is blue sky lighting up a winter wonderland little town. I spent a very long time visiting with Mother Abigail yesterday and here is a summary of my notes.
When I arrived at MAs home it was lightly snowing and her home could have been out of a movie set, just beautiful and very cozy. MA seemed glad to see me - which put me a bit at ease. My nerves sometimes get a little edgy when I have to interview her. MA is both sweet and accommodating but there is something about her bearing that makes me think of a visit to the principals office.
While I made myself comfortable in her den, MA made us tea with cinnamon sticks. The fire was warm and the view out to her backyard was enough to make me feel a bit domestic. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not have lived the cowboy lifestyle - but the feeling always passes when I get on the road.
When MA arrived with the tea set I noticed that her hands are getting a lot worse. She has arthritis in both hands and often her friends help her with things that she cannot do - like open bottle caps.
The fingers next to her thumbs seem to be quite a bit dislocated now with a lot of swelling. It concerned me so I asked about her health.
Q: MA your hands look a bit worse are they bothering you?
MA: They look a lot worse than they feel. It is the dexterity that is such a pill, I have had to get a variety of gadgets to help with activities that once I could easily do with my hands.
Q: Are you on meds?
MA: Oh of course, I now have a monthly infusion and I give myself a shot once a week as well. Not to mention all the pills that I use for maintenance.
Q: How do you manage in such a big house alone?
MA: I have a housekeeper who has been on my staff for twenty years and is an angel for me. Also, with my family living in Reno, I am never without help when I need it.
Q: MA I didnt, in any way, want to pry into your private life - I was just concerned.
MA: Of course child, I knew that.
Q: MA do you have a cell phone for emergencies?
MA: Well I carry a Blackberry for odds and ends and I never leave home without it in my purse.
Q: Good, I thought you must.
Q: When I write my next piece, should I leave out this discussion about your arthritis?
MA: (Laughing) No, I have very little vanity left at this late stage of the game. You continue to write everything as truthfully as you can.
Q: Thank you.
To: James Oscar
Q: I have read a lot over the winter and would like to ask a few questions about H1N1 and HIV, would you mind?
MA: I hoped that you would.
Q: Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, has charged that the pandemic of H1N1 was overstated in order to allow the pharmaceutical companies to cash in. He has also called for an inquiry into the pandemic - claiming it is "one of the great medicine scandals of the century"
India has asked the World Health Organization to explain reports that the pandemic status given to swine flu was a "false" one.
Poland, the only country to reject the H1N1 vaccine, stated that "We will not take part because it's not honest and it's not safe for the patient." This was from Prime Minister Donald Tusk who now stands by his decision.
What is your opinion of the validity of these claims? Do you think that the situation was overstated on purpose, or that financial motive was a factor in the elevation of this new virus to such an emergency level?
MA: I am not sure if you remember, but in June Dr. Chan was under withering criticisim to quicken the pace of the authorities in responding to this crisis.
On June 11th, 2009 she raised the alert level to "6" - our highest level. At that time many people were saying that we were dragging our feet and loosing all credibility.
In particular, I remember Dr. Michael Osterholm, who is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, saying that we had abandoned science and were failing to declare a level "6" because of political motives.
It was a mixed bag. But looking back at the first months of the outbreak I am forced to ask what were our choices? If we failed to respond in a robust and unified manor then not only our moral credibility but our future decisions were in grave peril. The phrase "better safe than sorry" comes to mind.
I would rather have a huge stockpile of vaccine that we did not use than to have a true medical emergency without sufficient supplies to treat the public.
We are not Gods - there are no hard and fast rules about predicting the outcome of new pathogens. We try to be as proactive as possible (when given time) but much of medicine is reactive - and in truth we often are wrong in our decisions.
But to impute the motives of these fine people is scurrilous. I have spent a long lifetime in the company of people who are forced to make decisions about health on a very large scale - and our public health professionals are, by and large, ethical and caring individuals
Q: But MA from the start you stated that this was probably a moderate outbreak.
MA: Yes, and so did many others. But we are not carrying the heavy responsibility for the vast complexities that must be mobilized to meet a pending pandemic.
When the buck stops on your desk, you do not have the luxury of taking the middle ground. When there is even a potential for disaster, the CDC and WHO must always prepare for the "worst case" scenario. It is their duty.
To: James Oscar
Q: What about your reservations on mass vaccination and the use of neuraminidase inhibitors?
MA: That is a different issue. I am strongly opposed to the use of neuraminidase inhibitors on any individual who has a disorder of the immune system (HIV, Rheumatoid arthritis etc.) We do not have enough information on the contraindications of this reaction to safely prescribe this regimen.
As to mass vaccination - when you have new vaccines it is wise to be cautious. The more controlled and disciplined we can be in their administration, the more confident we can be in their safety and efficacy.
(This was the only time I was to visit MA prior to her developing pneumonia and getting very sick.
Winter came and went, MA got well and although she did not open the Tahoe cabin this summer, her health is good and I am anxious to complete this work.)
To: James Oscar
October 13, 2010
Carson City, Nevada
It was nice to drive up to MAs house again, the leaves are just starting to turn and this old historic neighborhood is something out of a movie set. It is the perfect home for Mother Abigail.
Her housekeeper was there to let me in and lead me to the library. It is still a wonderful and comfortable venue to sit in the afternoon and talk about the world. And when you discuss the world with MA you need to make certain you had a good breakfast, studied hard and listen closely.
MA came in looking very well and none the worse for wear, and that is a great relief to me.
MA: It is good to see you again.
Q: And equally good to see you MA. Are you feeling well?
MA: Fit as a fiddle.
Q: That's excellent. The last time I saw you was in the hospital and as we discussed on the phone - it was a bit scary.
MA: A bit frightening for me as well. Would you like tea or a cocktail?
Q: No MA I'm good.
MA: It is still too warm for a fire but one of the mornings soon it will be winter. I miss not going to the lake this summer but my Cardiologist reccomended I relax this year.
Q: The cabin will still be there next year.
Q: The first thing I would like to say is congratulations on uncovering the host of the Ebola Virus. Your post from April of 2004 is, I believe, the earliest identification of Rousettus aegyptiacus that I have found. You were not doing field work then, how did you arrive at that conclusion?
MA: Well, you are way to generous with your praise there were others, I assure you, who were looking at this species as a host reservoir as well. As to how - it just seemed the right fit for all the epidemiological clues that were available. Dr.Pourrut and his team have been working on this problem since 2003 and their work will probably stand as the definitive study unless we get further data.
Q: Perhaps they should have written about it sooner then. For as the facts stand (and I am always open to correction) your post about fruit bats as the natural reservoir predates their publication by five full years. And in 2007 you stated:
R. aegyptiacus - Carries both antibodies and viral RNA fragments - strongly suggesting that this bat species is the natural reservoir.
That is pretty definitive...
MA: It was my firm belief that the overlapping of the primates and fruit bats during the late season had to be the common transmission point.
Q: Bravo to you - it was early an early and correct diagnosis.
To: James Oscar
Q: MA I know that you don't like to talk about the SARS threads, but I have so many emails since I wrote the original article several years ago that I feel obligated to try and relay a few of those questions to you. Would you mind?
MA: Oh, I suppose not.
Q: Mostly people want to know about your original post Precognition where you originally alerted the Internet about the unexplained pneumonia cases in China.
Why did you choose to use Free Republic as the vehicle to post that thread?
MA: Well it is not as complicated as it may seem. I do not have a computer and use WebTv on my TV to read the Internet. And Free Republic is one of the few sites that is workable on WebTv. Most of the others have too much junk and are really not compatible.
Q: And you chose to post on SARS because?
MA: Fear son. It is hard to imagine how little we knew and how exponentially this threat grew in the first few days. I doubt anyone realizes just how mobilized and cooperative the scientific community was during that first week. I felt everyone needed to know what was transpiring in real time. And for an epidemiologist this was one very bad bug with a ticket to ride right into our West Coast.
Q: Interesting. Were you really frightened?
MA: Very much so.
Q: MA thank you for that, I must have had a hundred people looking for that answer.
Q: There is one more question that seems to be a constant among your fans, and that is what do you mean by precognition?
Q: Do you mean like seeing the future?
Q: Why would you choose to title a thread on microbiology Precognition?
MA: Do you believe that thread is about microbiology?
MA: It is not.
(As we sat in MAs library and stared out at the beautiful cottonwood trees lining the street, I pondered her response. It was a very odd thread - mixed with religion, science and pop culture - but it had no theme that I had ever discovered.)
Q: Ok, well what is the thread really about then?
MA: Why dont you study it a bit and give me an answer on our next visit. How does that sound?
Q: Fine by me.
To: James Oscar
Q: MA the first question I feel needs to be addressed is your warning last year that vaccinating individuals with any immunocompromised condition was unwise. Do you still stand by that premise?
MA: Very much so.
Q: Is there any evidence, after all nearly a year has passed, that your fears are warranted?
MA: Well, thanks to the work of Susanne Brakemeier of Germany we now know that the H1N1 vaccine Pandemrix is ineffective in helping protect most renal transplant patients.
Ms. Brakemeier also advocated the need to test the safety of new vaccines in transplant patients. Which is what I have urged from the get-go.
Q: I do remember, even with my poor retention rate, a lot of the lessons you taught me on neuraminidase and the flu.
MA: Of course you do, knowledge once acquired is hard to put back in the bottle.
Q: What of your worst fears? You were highly agitated about giving H1N1 vaccines to HIV patients?
MA: And I still am. It is a foolish experiment. And, mark my words, it is an experiment.
The potential for adverse, even dramatically negative, outcomes in this stupid risk are enormous.
The long term effects are just beginning to emerge. Dr. Brophy, of the Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario, has shown that less than 70% of children with HIV achieved seroprotection from the H1N1 vaccine Arepanrix.
This result even fails to meet the European Union standards for human use.
It is folly. And I have urged them to stop.
Q: MA I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit with me today and for all the effort you have put into educating those of us with just a limited knowledge of Virology.
MA: It is certainly my pleasure. And you are welcome to come by here or the cabin anytime you choose, it is always a joy to see you.
Q: You are very kind MA, it is good to see you well and I am certain that I speak for all your fans when I say to stay healthy this winter and please write some more on the Internet.
MA: I will try child, it seems that your priorities shift substantially when one gets older, but I will try.
Q: Well if it is OK with you I would like to visit one more time before going back home. There are a few heavy topics we need to explore before I can say our conversations have been carried to fullness.
MA: Why don't you come back for Thanksgiving, and we can spend the afternoon on any subject you choose?
Q: That sounds terrific. I would enjoy that immensely.
To: James Oscar
November 24th, 2010
J A Nugget
The shrimp cocktail, the venison and two Absolute Martinis (one olive) have put me right into the zone. Carrie (my very favorite waitress) has turned me on to a late afternoon buffet here tomorrow. It will be perfect for me on a very busy day.
Kate and I will be serving free meals to all who come tomorrow at the Carson Nugget. They have been doing this for decades and they are kind enough to allow others to help serve. It is a blessing on every level.
There is a solo artist performing tonight with guitar and violin. There is only myself and another couple for an audience but his music is remarkable none the less. I feel peaceful and in harmony tonight. Tomorrow afternoon I will spend Thanksgiving with Mother Abigail and I will ask the hard questions that have been ignored for the last few years.
But it is OK. When the last post of this series is posted, I will remain - and my life (which has forever been altered by this project) will be rich and delightful. What a strange impact MA has had on my life. How empty and shallow my future lay prior to that trip to Lake Tahoe.
One more Baileys coffee and I will go upstairs and hit the hot tub, work on my crossword and prepare for tomorrow.
Why I feel like an athlete prior to a big game - I do not know, but I do love the rush.
November 25th, 2010
Carson City, Nevada
I picked up Kate at 10:30 AM this morning and we went to the Nugget to help serve. We were signed up for the 11:00 to 12:00 shift on the serving line.
We were assigned to the rolls and butter detail. Which was perfect. What a joy to see so many people, of all persuasions, enjoying the generosity of the Carson Nugget. We developed a routine (being the first on the line) where I grabbed a plate and turned right where Kate loaded the goodies. I then turned and welcomed the guest and gave them their plate. Amazing how many people were in line and how fast we were able to serve them.
But best of all, right in the middle of the rush, Kate turned to me (all smiles) and said what a good team we make.
Having woke up the other morning with very similar thoughts, I just smiled back.
It is hard to become too attached. The scars from our last failed attempt at the relationship thing are still much on my mind. It hurt. But this time seems different somehow. Neither one of us are drinking quite as much and we seem a little less stressed in our lives.
But, none the less, it seems prudent to just enjoy the moments. On the way out of the Casino she was just beaming and really happy when she hugged me from behind and said I love you. That is as much emotion as I have ever seen from her. Her demeanor is very self controlled and in all things - professional.
All this is said simply to give you an idea that by the time I arrived at MA's - I was in a very good mood.
To: James Oscar
November 25th, 2010
Carson City, Nevada
I arrived at MAs in the early afternoon after dropping off Kate at her home. It is brutally cold but there is no new snow. I have a ton of mixed feelings about today. First it is good to share the day with MA and I have grown to love our time in her study. But also, I am a little reluctant to breech the subjects we have, thus far, downplayed.
I brought a gorgeous pecan pie as a gift along with a bottle of Frangelico (sort of traditional with us). MA was sitting in the study as usual while her housekeeper finished the meal.
MA: It is so good to see you, thanks for coming.
Q: Would not have missed it for the world MA.
MA: Would you care for a cocktail or coffee?
Q: I would love a Crown on the rocks if you have it. Or any whiskey would be fine.
MA: Crown it is then.
Q: She left to go in the kitchen and fix our drinks, MA almost always has Frangelico and tea, as I settled into the big chair by the fire.
While it is the cowboy lifestyle that has most defined my life and career - there will always be a deep appreciation for the rock solid life of others. Here in this womb of warmth and comfort, a man such as myself cannot help but wonder how it might have been.
A different decision here, a little more patience there - could I have ever ended up like this wonderful lady? Sitting in a family homestead, content with my livess work and reading in the afternoon before the fire.
Nice thoughts on a Thanksgiving day - and without a lot of recrimination. It is what it is. I have long ago found peace with my choices - but it is nice to daydream now and then.
MA: What a great day for a big fire.
Q: I was just thinking the same thing MA.
MA and I had a little small talk before the meal but it was just casual. We ate in the dining room with the drapes all open and the back yard looking like a Hollywood set.
My mind tended to wander a bit as we ate, I love good food as much as anyone but there was an element of surrealism to the entire event. In a week or so I would be back in California, either writing on some of the real jobs that I have waiting or just decompressing after such a long and involved work.
Also for the last few days I have been trying to decide how far to push MA on her views. I most certainly do not wish to be rude, but I have promised too many people that I will explore (on a deeper level) her concept of the Coming Wave.
Because of the huge backlash from my last attempt to discuss the issue - I have simply avoided the hard questions. That will not be an option today.
To: James Oscar
Q: Back in MAs study we added another log to her fireplace and relaxed completely.
Q: MA you know that I am concluding my story about you with this interview, don't you?
MA: Yes of course.
Q: You offered me the opportunity to ask any questions the last time we met, is that offer still good?
Q: Because we have become such friends I want you to know that if you elect to duck any of these questions it will be fine by me. It is not a matter of national security - it is just that my readers have been very specific about what they would like to know. Good by you?
MA: I have never been shy.
Q: Well MA I am not certain.
As we sat eating brownies and sipping egg nog - the evening was getting late.
MA: Did you read Precognition like I asked?
Q: Yes I read it several times and I must say MA that it is just all over the place. You used it to warn about SARS and you used it to post about Ebola over the years. There was a lot of back and forth with other posters about religion and stuff. But you used a lot of humor too.
It is a very cool thread because of the very long time line involved and all the people who seem to know you so well.
But MA I have no idea what the theme is if it isn't microbiology.
MA: It is just as advertised. When I titled the thread Precognition there was one snippet of a report about a strange pneumonia found in China.
I felt something very odd was afoot and had a very bad feeling about this bug.
It has been this way all my life. I do not consider it strange to have very strong feelings that later turn out to be true. It is part of my very being.
I assure you that there are others who can testify to their experience with hunches, feelings, foresight or precognition.
Thus it was with that thread. I took to the Internet to chronicle the events I felt were about to occur and when they did occur, I simply reported them.
I also opined on my feeling about the relationship to Ebola and fruit bats - which also proved true.
Precognition means only what it says - sometimes we know things are about to happen before they happen.
Q: OK, well that is clear enough. Do you feel you leave yourself open to ridicule when you talk about things like this that are outside of science?
To: James Oscar
MA: Outside of science? It is none of the sort - do you remember our conversation about the current evolutionary changes in man?
Q: Not really.
MA: We have became the dominant species on earth due to our evolutionary advances in perception. It is not even open to debate.
Our physical prowess and our motor skills are largely unremarkable and in many comparisons simply puny. No, it is our ability to look back in time and make predictions about the future that has fast tracked us to the crown of creation.
Q: I know that it is the development of our mind that has separated us from the other primates, but I have never heard it described as perception.
MA: Not just perception, for their are many species with tools for perceiving the world that are superior to ours, sonar, heat sensors, extraordinary vision etc.
It is the ability to time travel with our mind that has made all the difference.
MA: We time travel with our mind. We look back over events and we see patterns, we then look forward in time and extrapolate those patterns to the future.
Almost all giant steps forward are creative leaps done within some deep thinkers mind and then transposed into our physical world.
Easy as pie. We use an ability that educators call abstract reasoning. For example, you are given a drawing on a piece of paper and asked if you fold this drawing here and here what do you get?
You fold that paper in your mind and look at the result. Abstract reasoning. A scientist sees a series of data points, correlates them in his mind and postulates about future outcomes. Nothing magical to it.
All our recent evolutionary advancements have been made possible by the prehensile mind.
Perception - and like most abilities it is subject to the rules of intermediate expression. God's big sine wave.
Some individuals will be extraordinary mathematicians from an early age with a true gift for numbers, some will be largely unable to comprehend complex problems and most will fall in the middle.
It is the way of life. Perception is no different. We all have examples among the people who surround us. Some are highly perceptive of many things and some are not.
It is all science and it is all real.
Q: I had never thought of human evolution in quite those terms, it is really kind of cool.
MA: Very cool indeed.
Q: Thank you for taking the time to give such a detailed explanation. It makes a few things a lot clearer for me.
To: James Oscar
Q: You know, MA, that I have closed all my e-mail accounts where readers were giving me feedback.
MA: I understand.
Q: It got a bit repetitious and, in all honesty, this project is winding down. I hope that our friendship can remain however - it is lots of fun knowing you.
MA: You are always welcome in my home and you can use my cabin any time you choose. After all you have done so much work up there you should own some sweat equity by now. But it will be good to see you move on to something new. You have probably wasted your time writing about me.
Q: MA I have never thought that you fully understand how well known and respected you are on the Internet. It is my opinion that your writings from the last seven years will be quoted for some time to come.
I would not have missed this series of articles for the world. This project was started on a whim, grew to be an all-consuming effort for me and it is now my prize possession. Not to mention Kate and the change she has made in my life.
MA: That is good to hear.
Q: But I would like to touch on a few subjects that have been asked by my readers, would you mind?
MA: Be glad to help.
Q: I titled this project as The Coming Wave due to the first conversation we had up at the lake. What I would like to do now is to go back and address that issue in great detail.
When I was writing the first article in this series I tried to give a rough image of your worldview and your vision for the future. I did a terrible job transmitting that information and as a result several websites that were hosting my work were flooded with complaints.
Now that I have laid a better foundation on which to build that conversation, I would like to explore your concept of the Coming Wave with you.
MA: It seems a perfect day to do so.
Q: You have been retired for a very long time now, do you miss working in the field?
Q: When we spoke at the lake for the first time your opinions were very new to me and, in all honesty, somewhat shocking.
I had never known someone with strong religious beliefs who also believed in evolution.
MA: It is not as unusual as you might think. In fact the more you study the workings of the universe the more you find yourself in awe of the beauty.
Q: And you feel that man is subject to both evolution and to God's will?
MA: Why would you think that evolution is not God's will?
Q: Well I don't know. Isn't evolution a physical system that functions independently?
To: James Oscar
MA: So is the morning dew and so is the rainbow. But to insist that the Creator did not create the operating system for his work is a bit naive.
Q: Operating System?
MA: Why yes, evolution, gravity, electromagnetism and sex are all part of the big picture that makes this rare and wonderful experience not only exist, but change and constantly evolve. If you ever study fractals you can see that there may even be simple patterns or elements used over and over in varying magnifications. Sort of like building blocks but way more complex.
And, of course, we know now that the condition we once called chaos is all smoke and mirrors.
Chaos is simply highly complex rhythms that, at this time, are beyond our understanding. And this is not a sermon about not knowing God, but simple mathematics.
We know for a fact (thank you Mitchel Feigenbaum) that the mathematical process whereby an orderly system moves into the realm of chaos is highly structured and a mathematically beautiful rhythm.
Then we lose our way. The rhythms are just too complex. That does not mean they don't exist, because they do - just that we do not have that level of perception yet.
Q: Perception. I see. Actually I have done some reading that has helped me understand why you always site order vs chaos as an example of perception.
I have very limited math skills, but I can understand the significance of being able to predict events right up to and a little ways into chaos. It is way cool reading.
MA: Extra cool.
MA: It is that predictability that is so important. The more in tune we are to our environment and the dynamics that it operates under - then the more we can understand and predict change.
Q: That makes very good sense to me MA.
Q: So when you speak of being worried about challenges to our continued population growth (as a species) you are using that predictability?
MA: Very much so. While we may be the overwhelmingly dominate species on this rock, it would be sheer vanity to believe that we exist out of the normal natural processes of life. It just is not true.
Our species is subject to all the forces that influence, regulate and contain population growth - we are not Gods. However it is our ability to understand and react to those forces that is our strong suit.
Q: What kind of forces are you talking about?
MA: Well the most basic dynamic is simply this:
Is the birth rate larger than the death rate? If the answer is yes then you are in an era where the species is expanding.
Q: Haven't we always expanded as a species?
To: James Oscar
MA: No, not at all. We have had a number of events that we call bottlenecks. A population bottleneck is where a significant percentage of any species is either killed or prevented from reproducing.
There have been a number of these events in our history, but the time-line, severity and number of bottlenecks is a very hotly debated subject. It depends a lot on which gene you backtrack. But there is a general consensus that we might have been reduced to perhaps only 5,000 reproducing females around 70,000 years ago.
That is a very large event and the genetic implications of such a bottleneck are equally significant.
Q: So there is a history of dramatic reductions in the size of the population of our species?
MA: Of course, we are not above the biological forces that regulate all life.
Q: MA I have a bit of a faux pas to admit to you.
MA: And what would that be?
Q: In my first article, where I was trying to summarize your views on this subject, I used the term the thinning of the herd - and was severely castigated on several of the sites that were posting my thread. It almost crashed my project.
MA: It is a very loaded expression. Many very ugly ideologies are associated with this phrase. It implies human intervention and some sort of selection process - like in animal husbandry. Bottlenecks in species are not like that at all. Often it is just a function of geography or climate.
There are, of course, dominate trends in these occurrences. I had a brilliant colleague who put it this way: "Among the classical markers of a species in crisis are sexual dysfunction and disease."
Q: Sexual Dysfunction?
MA: Well to put a finer edge on it - reproductive dysfunction.
We mammals have evolved a behavioral and physiological response to any population crisis. When a mammalian population becomes dangerously dense, there is a reversal of behavior. Co-operation is replaced by competition, dominance and aggression. If this sound familiar to you - it should. Also in these times of population stress you will find infanticide and gross neglect.
The resulting stress and violence also impairs both the immune and the reproductive systems. That is why epidemics often complete the crash of the population.
In some mammal species, crisis and crisis response recur regularly, leading to cycles of population growth and relapse, oscillating about a fixed mean. Here you can think almost any wildlife species - deer and coyotes are very much in the news now because of exactly these factors.
Q: Is it true for humans as well??
MA: Well, in man successive advances in food production have made possible geometrically growing populations, and unlike animals, we can choose to check population growth by reducing the birth-rate, instead of raising the death-rate, as in other mammals. However, even with a flood of abortions, China's single child policy, Europe's low birth rate and other measures we are still on a very sharp curve.
No we are very much in the same stew as our more furry friends.
To: Judith Anne
I most certainly will. Do you like it thus far?
I hope you are enjoying it.
To: James Oscar
James, I went to the site and read it all.
You call it a novella. SO: how much is fiction and how much is reportage? It is amazing that MA pinpointed Egypt prior to the Arab Spring and prior to this week’s admission by Egyptian authorities that conditions there are terrible.
I can follow how this _could_ happen. But, then, that is the pull of apocalyptic fiction: that it is possible. My husband works with the public in associated health care. I have a mild auto-immune condition that would make anti-virals problematic. Frankly, even if we, as news junkies who follow epidemiology, pick up on an epidemic coming out of Egypt (assuming it is even made public in time), it could well be too late. We already live in the boonies and could “pull up the drawbridge” and refuse all appointments while having already been exposed and therefore having exposed others.
I enjoyed it as apocalyptic fiction. As for the possibility: not so much.
I have stopped being amazed at the way she calls events with such accuracy and specificity. It is something I have no real explanation for.
As to where the reporting stops and the fiction begins, if you go to this page you will see it clearly defined - up to including a physical line to mark the spot. It was always important to me that I delineate that difference.
When I complete posting the entire work, I will post a page of historical links from the Internet to her work and the many events she has called correctly.
To: James Oscar
Gee - no matter how many times you proofread something there is always more.
“On June 11th, 2009 she raised the alert level to “6” - our highest level. At that time many people were saying that we were dragging our feet and loosing all credibility.”
Obviously loosing should be losing.
To: James Oscar
Thanks, James! I had wondered and wasn’t certain the bar wasn’t just a page division mark of some sort.
Glad you hold the differences important.
Looking forward to the rest and the links.
I must add that I was hoping it was all just totally creative writing. If she is merely 85% accurate this time, it is an extinction event.
To: James Oscar
WITHOUT THE SUN
THE COMING WAVE
To: James Oscar
Q: I read one of your earliest posts on this subject and you said the three prime indicators of a species in crisis were increased aggression, sexual/reproductive dysfunction and disease. Is that what I am hearing now?
MA: You got it. When I speak of perceptions of reality this is a prime example.
It is imperative that you be able to look back on the patterns that we know are factual and make reasonable projections or observations about our future.
Q: While MA went to get us another round of drinks, I could feel the sugar rush fading away and just a hint of the Turkey Sleep thing coming on. It was now dark outside and the fire was roaring hot. It is terribly frustrating for her to be able to explain all that in such a concise and reasoned manor while I spent weeks writing a bunch of dribble that is - honestly - a bit embarrassing at this point. I understand what she is saying - how could you not. But I need more from her. She is not being as open as she once was with me about this. I think I know why.
(MA said good night to her housekeeper and came back to the study and smiled at me with that teacher to student smile that is so warm and intelligent. Sometimes a writer labors over his work and sometimes it is the greatest joy on earth. I would not, for any measure you could offer, change my trade. How I got to this point from an article about the revolution in the New Media is very odd, but none the less here I am in front of the fire in the high sierra desert with the most remarkable person I have ever known.
Because I write for so many science editors, it is fair to say that I have seen my share of bright bulbs. But the steel and wit of this woman defies any conceptions you might have about her age. I told you the Turkey was getting to me - just was daydreaming about the task and not really doing the work. One of my less attractive traits. I gathered my thoughts and chose my words.)
Q: MA when we first met at the cabin you told me that you had grave concerns about our near future as a species. Is that still your position?
MA: Yes it is.
Q: When you try and discuss it with people do they think you are odd?
(I saw a look on her face that I am not certain I had ever seen - just a hint of a raised eyebrow and a small shadow of doubt quickly passed over her)
MA: Why do you ask?
Q: Because I believe that you see way more than you have ever discussed with me and that you are super careful not to disclose any of these premonitions/projections with anyone - because people are largely idiots.
MA: People are not idiots.
Q: Yes they are MA, if you in any way upset their perfect little vision of reality they get defensive and nasty. Now I am not saying the people who read your threads are like that, but those folks are a very very small minority of the population Your everyday Joe wants to hear about how hope and love always conquer and if you tell some people the truths they do not want to hear - they will get violent. That is why I say that.
I am not telling you something you don't know. You live the recluse lifestyle and keep your own counsel because your true thoughts disturb people.
Q: She looked at me very hard for a long time, not a pleasant experience to be on the receiving end of that gaze. I think in that moment the scientist in her was shining and it was doing a very careful examination of the specimen - and that speciemen was me...
To: James Oscar
MA: I believe that you paint the picture much too dark. It is true that this is a subject more suited to Hollywood than casual conversation. But it is not true that people would rather not know.
We must never put ourselves into a position where we believe that information should be filtered. The heart of science is that knowledge is shared. Even our conjectures, opinions, and observations are distributed. The very soul of science has been tempered on ridicule and even persecution. The road to understanding our world is paved with open discussion.
So being challenged in ones belief is no roadblock to any true person of science. And if I may say so, it should never be an impediment to your profession as well.
Q: Touche MA. I didn't mean any offense.
MA: I know that.
Q: It is just that I would like to go even farther into your observations but I fully intend to publish your comments on the Internet. And I do not care to diminish your reputation.
MA: Laughing - my reputation?
Q: Well you know what I mean.
MA: Child yes I do, and God bless you for caring but I am so far past such considerations that it seems a bit unnecessary. These are the days in my life where I am much more concerned with God's opinion of my actions than of man's.
So perhaps we can agree to just have our little discussion and let others form their own opinion. OK
Q: Good by me.
MA: What is it that you would like to know?
Q: MA, I have read some of your writing about the great apes, do you feel they are near extinction?
MA: Well the non-human great apes are not doing that well, but we humans are quite successful.
Q: Are people great apes?
MA: Why yes, didn't you know that?
Q: I am embarrassed to say no.
MA: All non-human great apes are endangered species. Actually there are very few breeding populations outside of captivity. It is a sad story and it is not getting any better. Great apes or Hominidae not only include humans but chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.
In Africa the "bushmeat" trade is wrecking havoc on the primate population in the wild, also there are periodic outbreaks of Ebola killing breeding adults.
We have about 200,000 western gorillas and only about 6,000 eastern gorillas left. It is crunch time for their species and with the exception of those in captivity the prognosis is poor.
MA: These are our closest relatives. This is not an abstract lesson in Biology - this is real and it very bad.
To: James Oscar
It is the times, and we are not immune to this tragedy either.
MA: Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis, at one point in time, were in exactly the same situation as our mountain gorilla is now.
Their populations became isolated and their breeding numbers declined to the point where their species failed.
Q: Well our numbers arent declining.
MA: No they are not. We have about 6.8 billion humans spread out over every ecosystem on earth and a few brave souls living off the earth in orbit.
We are, in fact, living in a human population explosion.
Tens of thousands of years passed before our species reached the one billion mark, around 1804, it then took only 130, 33, 15, 13 and 12 years to add each succeeding billion.
This accelerating rate of increase is what is meant by the term population explosion. Not that hard to see really.
We are expanding as a species at a faster and faster pace.
Which brings us to the math part of the question.
Would you like to take a break before we get into your favorite subject - she said laughing.
Q: MA knows that I hate math.
To: James Oscar
Thanksgiving Day 2010
Carson City, Nevada
MA: Settling into her big chair - Thanks for stoking the fire it is getting cold outside. But it is beautiful don't you think?
Q: Oh MA it is like something out of a photograph. Have you owned this house long?
MA: Most of my life.
Q: I feel a bit like the potted plant in this interview, you have been so forthcoming that I seem reduced to just listening. However do please go on. Ma do we have to get into math?
MA: Well let's just see.
Would you agree that we are indeed in a human population explosion?
Q: Seems clear to me.
MA: Then there are only two outcomes available. When we speak of population explosions within a species we normally resort to a bit of geek speak where we describe the two outcomes as either a r-selected species or k-selected species.
What this means, in simple terms, is that an r-selected species is one that reproduces quickly, has a short maturation time, breeds at a young age, has a short lifespan, produces many offspring quickly, has small offspring, has a high mortality rates for their young, and give little or no parental care.
The "K-selected species" usually live near the carrying capacity of their environment. Their numbers are controlled by the availability of resources.
In other words, they are a density dependent species.
The attributes of a K-selected species include a long maturation time, breeding relatively late in life, a long lifespan, producing relatively few offspring, large newborn offspring, low mortality rates of young, and extensive parental care.
With me so far?
MA: The main point of R/K selection theory is that evolutionary pressures tend to drive animals in one of these two directions towards quickly reproducing animals whose specialty is to adopt as many niches as possible using simple strategies
Or slowly reproducing animals who are strong competitors in crowded niches and invest substantially in their offspring.
The quick summary of R/K selection theory can be thought of as quality vs. quantity.
Q: Then we are obviously K-selected species?
MA: For the most part yes.
To: James Oscar
Q: You said only two outcomes, what are they?
MA: Well in the R-selected species their populations explode, filling all the ecological niches they can endure and then they suddenly collapse with the glide ratio of a rock. The K-selected species also explodes while food and habitat are abundant, and then they slow down as regulatory factors such as lower birth rate and reduced food availability come into play. The rate of population growth slows down to zero, and the population reaches a fairly stable level.
Q: Are we leveling off?
MA: Yes and no. No - we are still increasing the human population on earth but yes we are now slowing that rate of increase.
Q: When did it start slowing down?
MA: Somewhere in the early 60s we reached our peak of a 2.2% increase and then we began to moderate that rate of growth. We now have about a 1.14% rate of growth which translates to doubling in 61 years.
Q: Has it been continually slowing?
MA: Yes, for the last 40 years.
Q: So if I understand correctly, we are modulating our population as we reach the limits of the environment. That sounds like good news, is it?
MA: Well, lets take a look at a very simple equation that will help us decide the answer to that question.
r = n - m
This simple equation means that the realized intrinsic rate of growth is measured by the difference between natality (birth rate) and mortality (death rate).
And obviously zero population growth is reached when r = 0, natality equals mortality, and the population size remains constant, even though individuals are being born and are dying.
It seems simple. To follow the perfect example of a perfect k-selected species - we would simply expand to the limits of our environment or as we often say the habitat's carrying capacity - we would then modulate our birth rate to equal our death rate and live in the land of milk and honey.
But it is, as are many things in complicated systems, not that easy. We now understand that there are both k-selected and r-selected traits in many populations. Our species is riddled with such contradictions.
Let's start with a simple concept like rate of population growth. While it is true that the overall human rate of increase is modulating - that is not true for all components of that set. Most European countries have low growth rates. In the United Kingdom, the rate is 0.2%, in Germany it is 0.0%, and in France, 0.4%. Germany's zero rate of growth includes a natural increase of -0.2%, without immigration, Germany would be shrinking, like the Czech Republic
To: James Oscar
The Czech Republic and some other European countries growth rate is actually negative (on average, women in the Czech Republic give birth to 1.2 children, which is below the number to yield zero population growth, approximately 2.1 children). The Czech Republic's natural growth rate of -0.1 can not be used to determine doubling time because the population is actually shrinking in size.
So in these numbers we have a very strong trait for k-selection. But there is another current equally as strong - if not stronger. Many Asian and African countries have high growth rates. Afghanistan has a current growth rate of 4.8%, representing a doubling time of 14.5 years.
Q: I thought k-selected species also had rapid population expansion?
MA: The answer is yes; of course k-selected species have periods of rapid population expansion. But the kicker is the conditions under which this occurs.
Do you remember the brief phrase I said summarized the k vs. r selection?
Q: Was it quantity vs. quality?
MA: That is correct. But what it also means is that these two strategies are designed to function in different environments. Your K species uses the rapid growth to take advantage of a stable environment with ample resources while the R species responds to a disturbed environment by mass reproduction - obviously hoping that some members will survive the certain crash that always occurs.
So it is not just the growth rate but the environment that frames that growth that really defines which strategy is in play. We have in the k-selected species a stable environment that is density dependent. They produce few offspring with extra investment on the part of the parent, they have late maturation (again with much parental care) and they live long lives.
The r-selected species thrives in an unstable environment where there is density independence, they produce many offspring with limited parental investment, and they have early maturation, and live short lives.
Q: I don't understand are you saying we are not a k-selected species.
MA: No, we are both. Although some organisms are primarily r- or k-strategists, the majority of organisms falls between these two ecological extremes and may display traits of both. Because this concept of a continuous spectrum is such an important concept to understand - I would like to take a moment and discuss it with you.
One way to speak of a continuous spectrum is to frame it in terms of variations within a species. You are quite aware that within any species you have wide differentiation. Size, coloration, abilities etc, it is a never ending list of differences that make God's creation such a wondrous joy. These differentiations are the result of all the possible combinations of genes in an individual member of any species.
So we can say that the intermediate expression of genes results in a wide variety of variations within any species. Pretty much ABC stuff but it is incredibly important in the discussion we are having.
To: James Oscar
Q: Why is that?
MA: Because not all answers are yes and no. And not all problems are black and white. We were discussing how it is impossible to describe the human species as either a r-selected or a k-selected species because we present traits of both evolutionary strategies. Our species presents a range of these traits across a wide spectrum of expression. It is not one way or the other. Even among the scientific community there is great confusion about this dynamic. We have scientists who have attempted to attribute these variations in strategies to race.
It was a foolish error from the beginning. The variations within any given race are as great as or greater than between any two races. When you read about this type of speculation always remember that this type of racial stereotyping has been postulated for generations and it is as bogus as it comes. The variations are real, but they are exclusively related to behavior and nothing else.
That behavior is motivated by countless different factors but it is not attributable to race.
Q: OK, I think I understand that we are largely a K species but that within our species there are many different behaviors, some of which are K and some of which are R. Is that close?
MA: Yes, this bit of explanation has to do with the famous r = n m, the equation that lets us see if we are expanding, stabilizing or shrinking as a species. Now we know that r (the rate of increase has been modulating downward for the past 40 years) but it is still in the positive range. Because we as need to determine if the species is indeed modulating it's r to the point of 0 and achieving balance with it's environment and not just posting a small dip in a 600 year upward trend - we must examine the data closely.
And, as we have been discussing, that data is very mixed. Some cultures are into negative population growth (think the Czech Republic and some other European countries) while some cultures are expanding rapidly. (Think Latin America, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa). China is at 1.7 and India is at 2.8 in total fertility rates. So even among the most populous countries there is a difference. And these differences can lead to huge outcomes. With India above the 2.1 replacement rate in fertility and China below the norm it would only take to the year 2040 for India to be the most populous country on earth.
But again, predicting future growth rates of any population is very risky business - that is why we are taking such pains to be as accurate as possible in our evaluation of that old pesky r = n - m.
Q: OK, so if I read this right you are saying that there still might be a case for the r-selected behavior to overwhelm the k-selected behavior and instead of leveling off either continue expanding or to crash? Is there any way to know for sure?
MA: Yes there is.
Q: In all honesty, I don't see how, over the short term, k type behavior can overcome the population explosions evident in some parts of the world.
MA: Remember, there are trends and countertrends in many countries or cultures - even modernized societies. Let us take England for a moment. That is as about as proper an established modern country as can be found. Do you know what the most common name given boys at birth in England was last year? Here is a hint Jack has been the most popular for 14 years in a row.
Q: William or Harry?
MA: No, the correct answer would be Mohammed.
Q: For real?
To: James Oscar
MA: Yes of course, it is once again the collision between two different evolutionary currents. Immigration from other countries is sparking a baby boom in some areas while the resident population is declining as a whole. It is an uneven picture. One wave is reproducing and spreading while the other current is falling further and further behind even meeting the fertility rate necessary to maintain their population.
That is what we mean when we speak of differentiation between members of a species. Differentiation in reproductive strategies to the same environment is a pretty telling marker of evolutionary conflict.
Q: I believe that I have a good handle on this subject now; can I summarize what I have heard?
MA: Of course, go ahead.
Q: This discussion originated when we speculated on the future of our species in a changing environment. You have since tried to teach me some of the dynamics involved in making such a prediction.
What I now understand is that from the beginning our species has been subject to at least two different evolutionary strategies involving reproduction, fertility rate and species expansion. Good so far?
MA: Excellent, and especially the part where you say at least two, because there are many factors involved - but these two paradigms are easiest to understand. Please go on.
Q: Our current large population numbers are the results of countless surges, crashes and plateaus of population growth. During this long evolutionary development, some varieties of humans have risen to prominence then completely disappeared due to competition from a better adapted group.
MA: There is nothing wrong with the word variety but you might be better served to use the term groups.
Q: Point taken. These surges in population growth by one or more groups are described, by you, as waves.
Q: There have been large waves like the one out of Africa, the one across the Bering Strait and the expansion of the Old World into the new. But there have been lots of smaller waves within those events - like Clovis Man and others. The current wave started after the Black Death and the migration to the New World. That wave (which you and I have been calling the First Wave) rolled across the planet and finally peaked in the early 60s.
From that time on the rate of increase in the total number of humans has been slowing. However, there are cross currents within that decrease in rate - as there are with many other species. I also understand that there are very distinguishable traits associated with what is called an r-selected species, such as early maturity, a large number of offspring, limited or no parental long term investment in these offspring, and that this behavior normally leads to a rapid expansion of that species and a sudden collapse in their numbers.
There are also distinguishable traits associated with what is called a k-selected species, such as late maturation, few offspring and a large investiture in those offspring, and that this behavior typically leads this group to fully occupy the habitat, at that point their numbers level off and arrive at some type of balance with their environment.
MA: That is pretty close.
There is one caveat that I should add. In old school Biology we would normally think of any single species as either K or R selected. The understanding that there are multiple expressions of both these traits within any given species, while not controversial, is new. Not a large point but one that could be questioned.
Q: I understand that, although it is difficult to see how you could not see the different strategies in our species.
To: James Oscar
MA: Agreed. OK, now that the first wave is modulating, what else.
Q: Well, there is now The Second Wave rising out of the developing world. As the developed countries have lower and lower fertility rates, other parts of the world are doing exactly the opposite. I am not sure where the rates are the highest but I would guess Africa.
MA: When you look at just births per woman in her lifetime you come up with Niger at 7.19, Guinea at 7.07 and Afghanistan at 7.07. But why is that still misleading?
Q: Because of infant mortality?
MA: Oh, not just that but life expectancy at birth. While fertility may be very high in Niger the life expectancy at birth is only 40 years old. Africa, as a whole, has a life expectancy of around 54 years, but it obviously varies from area to area.
Q: That sounds like exactly what an r-selected group would try to do. In a challenging environment where life is short you try to produce a lot of offspring. Right?
MA: Yes, and that was an excellent summary. As you point out - due to the sub-replacement fertility of much of the industrialized world - population decline is a real factor. Japan, for instance, has been in a state of population decline for a number of years. We know this by using our handy little r=n-m formula. After the 2005 census we discovered (in Japan) for the first time that r was a negative number (meaning that the number of deaths outnumbered the number of births).
But it was to be expected, Japan has the second lowest birth rate in the developed world after only South Korea. That rate of 1.4 is not enough to sustain a population thus r = less than 0. And when r = less than 0, you may have a problem. What do you think?
Q: Well not necessarily. If you are modulating your growth at an optimum level then an r of 0 or slightly less than 0 might be expected.
Q: The problem, I suppose, is determining whether you are leveling or plunging.
MA: Population decline, or depopulation, can be cyclic or benign but it is sometimes a harbinger of bad times. Some Japanese towns facing depopulation are offering cash. Yamatsuri offers parents $4,600 for the birth of a child and $460 a year for 10 years. The Republic of Singapore offers $3,000 for the first child, $9,000 in cash and savings for the second; and up to $18,000 each for the third and fourth. Why isn't this option being offered in Europe and other areas with sub-replacement fertility rates?
Q: Because of immigration?
MA: Yes. Were it not for immigration a large number of countries would be facing very serious depopulation issues. In the past decade the UK population level has been rising as fast as it did at the peak of the post-war baby boom in the early 1960s. About 45 per cent of last years population rise was brought about by immigration and 55 per cent by a greater number of births than deaths. However the rising birth rate is itself a product of immigration one in four births last year were to mothers who were born outside Britain.
To summarize, we have the First Wave modulating growth and the Second Wave rushing in to fill the gaps in desirable locations where depopulation is an issue. This immigration results in a rapid expansion of the new group with large, extended families. It would seem a balanced response when viewed in this manor, but it is not.
To: James Oscar
Q: Are you talking about the culture conflicts that develop?
MA: No, culture is like Jello. It is always changing and reshaping itself. The issue we need to concern ourselves with - is the one of species survival. Our problem, as a species, is that we are facing a Third Wave.
It is the factor that makes any extrapolation from the data we have been discussing moot. The Second Wave rising out of the developing world is being overtaken by the deadly Third Wave - and it is targeted at our very existence.
Q: You say there is a Third Wave coming. Is this to be in our lifetime?
MA: It is not coming - it is here. While we discuss very small outbreaks of every exotic disease known, the real killer keeps penetrating our species until it has reached global saturation.
And that saturation of geography and culture is now complete.
The harsh reality is that our species is challenged over and over to survive. And that outcome is in question.
Come back tomorrow afternoon and we will examine this Third Wave and the carnage that is flowing in its wake.
To: James Oscar
THE UNREACHABLE FRUIT
THE COMING WAVE
To: James Oscar
Page #57 NOVEMBER 26, 2010
MOTHER ABIGAIL'S STUDY
Q: I arrived a little after noon at MAs and we settled quickly into our favorite chairs. I think we were both anxious to continue our excellent conversation of yesterday.
MA: We talked a long time last night didn't we?
Q: Yes MA it was a great afternoon. Thank you very much for sharing the lovely food and the hospitality of your house.
MA: You are quite welcome - it was fun for me. Do you remember where we were?
Q: That is the great advantage of taking good notes MA, we were about to discuss the Third Wave that you are so worried about.
MA: Indeed. It is probably obvious to you by now that I taught you all about the wonderful world of bugs and how they operate, so that we could have this conversation now.
Q: Yes I suppose so, all the lessons about Influenza and all the lessons of viral reproduction always kept coming back to the HIV virus. Why not just start with HIV?
MA: Several reasons, number one being that H1N1 is very much in the news as is H5N1 and they are the perfect examples to learn how all the bells and whistles work in the fast moving life of your RNA virus. Second, I am not sure you would have stuck to the subject had it not had the potential for a good article about the virus du jour.
Q: You are probably right. From what we have discussed these last few years, you are afraid that the HIV virus is going to become more virulent, aren't you?
MA: Very much so. It is different - highly mutagenic and very deadly. What do we mean when we say "Mortality Rate"?
Q: It means what percentage of the people it infects die.
MA: Correct. Now what is the mortality rate for those poor souls who become infected with the HIV virus?
Q: I am not sure. I know people are living longer with the disease and some don't seem to get sick at all. I thought at one time that it was 100% fatal, but I am not sure that is correct.
MA: It is not. A very very small percentage of people never get ill, many are living a long time with different drug cocktails and many die very rapidly. It is truly all over the board. Much of the answer lies in where you live, how you acquired the virus and what level of treatment you can afford. You will not see many hard numbers on this question any more, as you do other diseases, for just these reasons. But there is one question that you can answer fairly certainly, and that is "how many people who acquire the HIV virus get well?"
Q: There is no real cure is there?
MA: No, once infected it seems impossible to kill the virus. There are always claims that X or Y have a complicated system for rooting out and destroying all the virus in a body, but I do not believe this is true. We understand all too well how this horrible bug can hide in places that render it all but untreatable. The sad truth is that HIV+ is a condition that, as of this time, is treatable but permanent.
To: James Oscar
Q: But it is very hard to transmit, right?
MA: Mostly. Mother to unborn infant, heterosexual sex, homosexual sex, blood transfusions and needle sticks are avenues for transmission - but on balance you would have to say that outside the human body it is a very fragile bug. However once it gains entry to the human body, via any means, it is all but invincible.
If you think of the thin layer of atmosphere that protects the earth and keeps us from looking like the moon - the human immune system is very much akin to that layer.
Were it not for that immune system we would all be "bubble boys" needing an artificial system of protection to keep the world from killing us. There are a multitude of bugs and fungi that would kill us very rapidly without that internal system of defense.
And therein lies the dilemma. HIV lives to destroy that system.
Q: Why can't we kill it?
MA: Think of all the changes that have occurred in science and medicine since 1980. Yet HIV remains untouched. If you have enough resources then you can afford treatment to greatly prolong your life - however the virus remains undefeated - only waiting.
Q: But can't we eventually find a way to kill it?
MA: Perhaps if there were time. Child do not underestimate this virus. Having obtained a foothold in our species it used air travel to gain access to the developed world. In this continent it traveled in the underworld of gay sex to spread from East to West.
Then again using air travel it continued in its march to geographical saturation until it now resides in over 30 million bodies - in every corner of the globe. Think of those 30 million poor souls as independent laboratories, each producing uncountable reproductions and mutations daily - with only one goal.
Q: And what would that goal be?
MA: To break out.
Q: You mean to be more virulent, don't you?
MA: Yes, it has only one purpose, only one drive and only one effect - it kills human beings.
This bit of malevolent RNA has now colonized the planet earth and is working on a scale that you cannot imagine to move from host to host more efficiently. As it now exists, it is very difficult for it to pass from host to host. That being so, any mutation that allows it more access to a wider number of carriers will be highly beneficial to the organism and its relentless attack on our species.
Q: I can understand that. But it has not evolved in that arena yet, why do you believe that there is a likelihood of it becoming more transmittable?
MA: There are really not that many potential outcomes.
1. We find a way to kill it.
2. It continues to be a manageable chronic illness.
3. It becomes more virulent.
To: James Oscar
Q: Yes but that has always been the situation. Why now would it change?
MA: Oh there is that question isn't there. I have spent the last few years teaching you the very best science and understanding that we have on this subject and now we come to a departure in that protocol. Are you certain you would like to go in that direction?
Q: I have worked for a long time, changed the direction of career and will forever be incomplete if I do not. So the short answer is yes.
MA: Then perhaps we better have a cocktail.
Q: Thought you would never ask....
Mother Abigail set about to make our favorite afternoon delights. Being that it is winter I prefer Crown on the rocks and MA normally has Frangelico and tea.
I have been building to this conversation for the last two days and now I feel we are about to go into the arena that MA has, thus far, excluded me from.
The afternoon has drifted away but the fire is warm and I yearn to be back in that odd place that I drift into when she is so spellbinding with her discussion.
MA: One thing before we continue. You need to draw a line between our prior conversations and this one. All the information and discussion prior to this has been as accurate and documented as is humanly possible. There are things that could change tomorrow, but I have tried to be fair and scientific in my presentations to you. Do you understand that?
Q: Sure MA, I will do just as you ask but I believe that everyone knows by now that what your thesis is well founded in science and I have never had one person dispute the data that you have laid out.
But it is going to be different now isn't it?
MA: Yes, very different.
Q: You see things don't you?
MA: No. I simply have hunches, premonitions and occasionally I know about future events. "See" is the wrong verb, feel would be closer to the truth.
Q: Did you "know" about SARS?
MA: I would say it was a very strong premonition. I am always watching for outbreaks and when I heard the first little blip about the "unknown pneumonia" in China it gave me that feeling that this was serious and would grow to be dangerous. "Knowing" is a bit different.
Q: Are you ever wrong?
To: James Oscar
MA: Oh sure, sometimes the hunches turn out different than what I originally thought, sometimes the premonitions have little twists or permutations that I did not imagine.
Q: And the "knowing"?
MA: No, when the feeling is that strong the events are normally coming. It is hard to explain, but you just know something. And child I assure you that I am not alone in this talent. Many parents can tell you that they just know something about their children. Certain gamblers make unusual bets and then explain that they just knew X Y or Z was going to win.
This intuitive nature of our species is what I have been trying to teach you about when we speak of increased perceptual ability. This "fourth dimensional perception" is real and evolving.
Q: And you know about HIV?
MA: Yes, very much so.
Q: When did you first know and what was it that you felt?
MA: I knew from the first day we discovered it was a virus. And, in truth, perhaps even a bit before that announcement - because I had been looking for such an event. My entire life I have had this strong premonition that in my lifetime we would see a virus arise that would dramatically change our species. That feeling led me to science in school, medicine in college and Virology in practice. It has always been with me and remains today.
At first it was just the overall idea that such an event was upcoming, but as the years progressed and I became more mature, the details have filled in and I am left with a "knowing" that is fairly complete and has been coming to pass before my old eyes.
Q: Did it bother you?
MA: Why no, it is part of what I am. Just a little section of my mind that occasionally reminds me that there are dark clouds on the horizon.
I was fully content to sit in this wonderful chair and hope that I would be wrong on the outcome, but almost certain that I would not. That was of course before God sent you to the cabin at the Lake.
Q: MA, with all due respect, I don't think God sent me to your cabin.
MA: Oh really. Perhaps one day you will look back on the events that led you to my garden that afternoon and have a different opinion. But as for me, it was obvious that here - in your desire to write about me - was the perfect opportunity to try and do something different than just carry the knowledge to my grave. Also it was apparent that, for some reason, it was time.
Q: Time for what?
MA: Oh, for many things. If you were sitting in my garden with a pen and paper, then it was time to tell the story as I see it. And if it was time to tell that story - then there must be a need for that information.
Q: Do you mean that you feel we can stop this coming wave?
MA: No, as I have explained, that wave has already washed over this world - but there are some things that still might be done to help those who are watching.
To: James Oscar
Q: When you say those who are watching what do you mean?
MA: One of the sites that you have been writing on about our conversation is called "FluTrackers", correct?
Q: Yes of course.
MA: Do you read the many threads that have to do with pandemic preparedness and all the reports of exotic diseases that pop up worldwide?
Q: From time to time.
MA: Well they are watching. Not only those fine folks but there is a survivalist movement in our country that grows steadily with new converts.
In fairness, they will all tell you they are watching for something different. Some are looking for financial collapse, some are looking for totalitarian government movements, and some are looking for plagues, earthquakes, and the end of time.
But many are those who are watching.
I am not the only person with the nagging feeling that there is something very dark on the horizon.
Q: But your interpretation of these dark clouds is tied into your vocation. Could it be that the reason you fear an outbreak - is because that is the subject you know best?
MA: Of course it is possible, anything is possible. I suppose the smart money would be betting on me just being the crazy lady in the big house. But that does not change the story that I am telling you. These events are my understanding of our immediate future and are not the result of any external influence.
Q: Fair enough. You say that because the HIV virus is already pandemic there is little we can do to stop the "coming wave". How can that be true?
MA: We have fought against the HIV virus for over thirty years and yet it continues to march forward - were this organism to change its virulence the sheer scope of that event would be overwhelming.
Q: And you fully believe that transformation is coming?
MA: It is imminent.
Q: Well you have spent a lot of time explaining to us how each chemical challenge we throw at this virus results in it changing very rapidly to evolve a defense to that challenge. And I fully understand that it is highly mutagenic. But it is neuraminidase that really concerns you isn't it?
MA: Yes, as I have laid out for you these last few years, we know that neuraminidase enhances HIV's ability to replicate and it just has too many possible side effects for us to purposely be dosing HIV+ patients with chemicals that disrupt the normal neuraminidase function in their system.
That does not mean that the change in HIV virulence will be directly attributable to this treatment, but I have my suspicions.
Q: Do you mean that you are not certain why the virus changes?
To: James Oscar
MA: No I am not. I believe, and this is only my belief - not science, that the virus is on the verge of a complete breakout of its current behavior and will soon change both its transmission vector and its virulence.
The nuts and bolts of what precipitates this transformation are not clear to me and, in truth, we may never know the answer to that question.
Q: Ma if you are not sure how it changes then how can you be so certain it will be dangerous?
MA: Well, it is not so black and white as you make it. What I believe is that it will change. It will go airborne and it will become quick and deadly. When it makes that magic mutation that gives it the ability to ride the water droplets expelled in a cough or sneeze to the lungs of a healthy person - not only will it have found the mechanism for rapid transmission but the mutation will also set in motion a very different chain of events from what we know now.
When the new HIV virus arrives in the lungs of a new patient there is the great potential for a positive feedback loop to be established between the new invader and the host's immune system. At the arrival of the new pathogen, cytokine will signal the body to send T Cells to fight the infection. The T cells, upon being stimulated by the cytokine will begin to produce even more cytokine.
This is the normal reaction and happens all the time. But we have a real problem don't we?
Q: HIV lives on T cells?
MA: Yes of course. So now we have the feedback loop. T cells rushing to the lungs where they are infected with new virus and more and more cytokine being produced by the body. The result is called a "Cytokine Storm". The lungs begin to fill with fluids and immune cells. The result is sudden death. When this event takes place in the lungs, it can kill a healthy young person in less than 48 hours. We learned this lesson in the 1918 flu outbreak.
Q: So the hardy virus can jump from lungs to lungs and once there put in motion a very serious reaction that will kill you rather quickly. Is that about it?
MA: Just about, the only addition I would add is that once the new bug creates this "soup" in the lungs - with each cough or sneeze this deadly pathogen is sent on an airborne journey looking for a healthy lung to infect..
Q: OK, I see all that and I understand why you have been so concerned about doing anything that might increase the chance of the virus mutating.
But, what I don't really see is this - Say it happens as you say, somewhere in Russia or China the virus is successful in breaking out and infecting a patient, his family and even some health care workers - wouldn't it quickly be quarantined and controlled? Even SARS can be contained.
MA: Yes were there to be an isolated breakout and the proper barrier nursing techniques could be initiated, then the prognosis would be for containment. But that is not to be the case.
Q: I don't understand what you mean.
MA: There is a very unusual phenomena in the world of Virology called "coincidental spontaneous mutation". We use this term to describe an event where the same mutation breaks out in multiple locations in the same time frame.
The causality of this event is highly debated but the phenomena is well documented.
To: James Oscar
MA: Very recently. In 2009 there was an event that occurred concerning the H1N1 novel virus that should have sounded the alarm bells for all those who are watching these pandemics.
There was a mutation of the H1N1 virus that occurred in Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, and the United States. The mutation is called H1N1/D225G.
This mutation directly attacks the lungs, causing swelling and hemorrhage. Symptoms include progressive over 38C temperatures, breathing difficulty, a dry cough producing blood, and destruction of lung tissue starting in the lower lungs. Time from onset of symptoms to death was 4-7 days.
When we performed post mortems we found the lungs were blackened, as if burnt, perhaps related to lung hemorrhage.
Both the D225G marker, a so-called domain changing receptor, and the symptoms listed above seem to link this variant to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918.
The multiple coincidental spontaneous mutations were so startling that some people believed we had seen a test run of a biological agent. That was not true.
What we experienced was soon repeated again when clusters of Tamiflu resistance patients appeared in Wales and North Carolina. These patients all acquired an identical change in the H1N1 virus - yet lived a world apart.
It is not a new phenomena. There have been many reports, historically, about bugs acquiring resistance seemingly overnight. Again, the mechanism for this type of event are completely unknown to us. There are so many things that occur in our physical world that seem bewildering - yet commonplace.
That is the great joy of science, to reach into that unknown realm and search for those natural rhythms that are just beyond our understanding.
Q: I don't know what to say. I had no idea such a thing was even possible. But it makes the hair on my neck stand up when you talk about the effects the mutation has on the lungs. Is that what happened in 1918?
MA: Well we have to be careful about overreaching but yes something very similar to this event. That bug killed the young and healthy with impunity. Once again, in a cytokine storm the more robust your immune system is - the more devastating the feedback loop.
Q: It is almost like we are, step by step, building up to your vision of the HIV mutation. All these events are so similar to what you postulate.
For the first time MA, I am a little frightened.
MA: And why is that?
Q: I suppose because before this discussion your theory seemed just too far fetched to make any sense. But when you frame the outbreak with all this in the background - it is just a bit too real for me.
I am in the position of having read your writings stretching over nearly a decade and it is impossible to forget how prescient you have been on so many issues. That worries me when your predictions begin to make not only reasonable sense but have a small ring of truth.
MA: Ring of truth?
To: James Oscar
Q: Well yes, there is something in your tale that seems, to me, believable. I am forced, for the first time, to ask myself "could it really happen?" And viewing your past history of remarkable calls in the field of Virology - I would prefer not to answer that question. It is the knowledge that I would rather avoid that question that frightens me.
MA: I can understand your concern. There is a certain rhythm to life and many times it seems to telegraph the direction that it is moving in.
We are often just passengers on this cosmic train and that knowledge can be a bit unsettling.
Let's have a drink and take a break for a moment.
Q: She must have seen that I was not quite all there. My mind was going over this new revelation. I had no idea that organisms could change so quickly and in concert of all things. It was the piece of the puzzle that never seemed quite right.
From our first conversation I was aware that MA was awaiting a viral outbreak of a scale that would change our species. So what - I know people who believe aliens visit us from time to time. Everyone to their own.
But this outline of events is lacking the huge leap of faith that I always assumed she had made. I suppose it could be possible...
MA: Here is a fresh Crown on the rocks. I will be right back - I am making tea.
Q: I put another log on the fire and tried to gather my reporter persona. My desire to see this conversation played out in detail now appears to have gone a bridge too far. It is safe and warm to view others as odd or eccentric, all the time smugly maintaining a safe distance from the message. But I feel a bit compromised.
Q: MA, are you saying that there are to be multiple simultaneous mutations worldwide?
Q: And I assume this large scale outbreak is what overpowers the health care systems?
MA: There will never be a real opportunity for containment. This is not Hollywood. No hero will develop a magical antidote just in time to save the beautiful woman. No, this event is of such a consequence that, by the time the scale is apparent, the issue will be settled.
Because the virus is airborne the first three days of outbreaks will saturate such a large population that all the wheels will rapidly come off even the best health care systems. The first task will be to understand what is happening and it will, all to rapidly, become apparent that it is a very hot bug and that it is pandemic.
But by the time the extent of what has happened is well known - there will be no recourse.
Child, there is no recourse even now. We cannot kill this creature. We have only kept it at bay for these many years and that era of detente is rapidly ending.
Q: But MA, you make it sound so hopeless. How could you believe such a thing?
MA: There are things that I believe and things that I know. This virus and its coming change are something I know. I know in detail and specificity that defies all common understanding - yet my knowledge remains.
And now you know.
To: James Oscar
Q: I stopped talking for a few moments and stared into the fire with my thoughts. It was too much to assimilate on one afternoon, now early evening. But this was my last night in Carson and my last night interviewing the remarkably complex lady who long ago signed on to a web site as "Mother Abigail". I looked up and she was serene and quiet in her big black chair.
If this is all true, are you saying only isolated groups will survive - like in past bottlenecks?
MA: No, unfortunately groups will not be so lucky. All those well prepared groups who believe that when the stuff hits the fan they will survive because of where they live or where they will retreat to - will make one tragic error. They will welcome carriers into their retreats before the scope and speed of the outbreak are well known. It will be their undoing.
This outbreak is of a different scale. The penetration of the virus into human culture and population, the speed of the spread of the airborne variant, and the closeness of human contact in our modern age are all factors that, except for a few isolated pockets, mark the end of the rise of Homo Sapien Sapien.
It is very close to an extinction event.
Q: You say isolated pockets?
MA: Yes, there will be those few who, at first report of the strange deaths, will depart immediately to a place they have chosen and stocked with provisions. This will not be groups but the next step down - families.
This place will have ample water and be so removed from human contact that the virus will burn through our species without finding them in their place of refuge.
It will be these families that must carry on with our hopes and dreams of better days.
This is not an easy concept to understand but in all this trauma and tragedy - there is transformation. A sort of genetic winnowing and even, in the macro sense, a choosing.
For those who are awaiting this event, and child do not be deceived, they are many in many lands. These coming events are not unknown. They have a feeling, a premonition, a precognition of what lies ahead. It is growing in their hearts and they will not hesitate to flee at that crucial moment when flight and isolation are still possible.
MA: Yes. We have spent a very long time discussing how in our species there is a range of abilities in the area of perception. Perception will be the only determinant in this bottleneck.
The time is so close that most of the staging for the refuge will have started long ago. They have chosen their spot, they are stocking the larder and they only wait. For they also know.
It is our time and as difficult as it may be, this is what we will do.
Q: Will you go to the lake?
MA: No, I am a doctor and I will serve in that capacity as best I can. This is my home and I am happy with my life's work and I am at peace with my Lord. In this small town we will do what we can against a foe that carries only darkness and finality.
To: James Oscar
Q: But the towns will fail?
MA: All groups, towns, villages and cites will fail. There is no refuge in these places. Only death.
Q: Do you mean that there are other people who believe this is coming and are ready to flee to some place out in the boonies and just wait for it all to pass?
MA: Yes, exactly that.
Q: We just looked at each other for a bit. I saw in her both relief and contentment. She seemed very much at peace on the cold November night.
You are glad to have told me, aren't you?
MA: Very glad. It has come full circle now and what you write will give comfort and hope to so many folks who often wonder if their thoughts are dark because of an emptiness in their heart or because the future is dark.
To them your words will be a soothing balm.
Q: Well MA that is a lot to ask from a guy like me, I will certainly do my best to represent your thoughts accurately, but I just don't know about all that other stuff.
MA: I am certain that you will do your best. This is your calling. You have come a long way from my garden at the lake and I am very proud of you. Do not worry, just write it as you remember.
Q: I have one last question before I go, how will these folks know. Are you going to write, or will it be on the news or what?
MA: That is to be easy. All the systems are now in place. The Internet is here, the pandemic blogs are all up and watching and we only wait. It will be out of Egypt, because of the powerful infrastructure watching for H5N1 outbreaks, where most people will hear the first news. When you hear of the sudden outbreak in Egypt, leave immediately. Use only self service gas pumps, do not stop and do not have any human contact from that point on.
If you are alone, or with your family run to a refuge. Wait for it to burn out. Be patient and then patient some more. Let the darkness pass over the earth. It will be quicker than any Hollywood disaster movie could ever portray. But it will pass.
Q: Well that is pretty clear. Egypt huh?
MA: That is where you will first know.
Q: I looked at my drink and the ice had all melted. I was not sure what time it was or how long we had been talking, but I was mentally and physically exhausted. I let out a big sigh.
MA: Would you like a drink?
Q: No thank you. I am about done. It has been such a long day and there is so much to consider that I best get back to the hotel and rest. I leave for the coast tomorrow and right now the bed sounds very appealing.
MA: Are you satisfied that we have covered your questions?
Q: Absolutely, it was important to have this day. All the hard things needed to be said and understood. You have laid it out for me in the most basic way possible. Now I can write the ending knowing I am being true to what you believe. I think that is what I really wanted.
MA: I do as well.
Q: I can never thank you enough for spending all the time with me and giving my readers an opportunity to share in your vision and thoughts. You have been very kind to me.
MA: It was my great pleasure.
Q: I rose and gathered my coat walking to the door. As we stood at that door, I felt I might never see her again and it pained me in a very deep place. She took my hand in her badly shaped right hand and held it for a moment smiling. We only said good night, and I was gone.
Out on the street I walked. without thoughts, to my car in the dark. It was bitterly cold.
To: James Oscar
THE COMING WAVE
MARCH 14, 2003 - MOTHER ABIGAIL'S FAMOUS POST "PRECOGNITION"
MARCH 17, 2003 - THE FIRST OF MA's 20 MEDICAL THREADS ON SARS
MARCH 26, 2003 - MOTHER ABIGAIL SIGNS OFF ON THE SARS THREADS
April 26, 2004 - MOTHER ABIGAIL POINTS THE FINGER AT FRUIT BATS AS THE EBOLA HOST RESERVOIR
JANUARY 9, 2007 - MY FIRST POST OF THE ARTICLE "EXPLORING THE NEW MEDIA'S EVOLUTIONARY PATH - BIRTH OF THE FLU BLOG" ON THE WEB
OCTOBER 9, 2007 - MOTHER ABIGAIL POSTS HER THEORY THAT "R. AEGYPTIACUS" IS THE HOST RESERVOIR FOR EBOLA
OCTOBER 2, 2009 - SCIENTISTS PROVE MOTHER ABIGAIL'S THEORY ON R. AEGYPTIACUS IS CORRECT
JULY 2009 - DISCUSSION THREAD WITH LOTS OF ILLUSTRATIONS AND DETAILS ABOUT MY INTERVIEWS WITH MOTHER ABIGAIL
To: F15Eagle; Esther Ruth; Star Traveler; cyclotic; dripp
To: Marie; cherry; united1000; keri; maestro; riri; Black Agnes; vetvetdoug; CathyRyan; per loin
Euro crisis: Why Greece is the sick man of Europe
19 December 11 20:00 ET
By Anthee Carassava
BBC News, Greece
Most worryingly, HIV infections are soaring with experts anticipating a 52% rise for this year alone.
Most of the increases have so far been attributed to intravenous drug users. By some accounts, the Lancet reported, users “deliberately self-infect” to gain access to benefits of 700 euros a month and faster admission onto drug substitute programmes.
Other HIV carriers have been infected because of unsafe sexual practices.
“It’s crazy what’s happening out there on the streets,” says Elizabeth Kanellopoulou, president of the union of Greek prostitutes. “Prices have dropped, more boys and girls have taken to the trade, the type of customers have changed and the conditions of employment have all drastically altered.
“What was a must until recently - the use of a condom - is now almost nowhere.”
To: James Oscar
Arab world faces hidden AIDS epidemic
BEIRUT In an Arab world rife with social stigma, government inaction and often limited access to education and medical care, experts warn that an HIV epidemic is on the rise.
“In the Middle East and North Africa, the HIV epidemic has been on the rise for the past decade,” said Aleksandar Sasha Bodiroza, HIV/AIDS adviser at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
“The number of people needing treatment in the region has spiked from approximately 45,000 in 2001 to nearly 160,000 in 2010,” Bodiroza told AFP.
“This has put the Middle East and North Africa among the top two regions globally with the fastest growing HIV epidemic.”
A United Nations report released this month said the number of people becoming infected with HIV has slowed worldwide, with AIDS-related deaths also on the decline as access to treatment becomes more widespread.
But the Arab world has been slow to catch up. Here, HIV contraction rates and AIDS-related deaths are increasing as public awareness, government response and access to adequate medical services have been slow to progress.
While there is little reliable data on the Middle East and North Africa, the United Nations estimates between 350,000 and 570,000 people live with the HIV virus in the region, home to a population estimated at more the 367 million.
One study, published recently on the open-access Public Library of Science, put infection rates among men who have sex with men at 5.7 percent in Egypt’s capital Cairo — and at 9.3 percent in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
And while some countries have begun to take small steps towards fighting a growing but hushed problem, shame and stigma show very little sign of waning in a region where same-sex relationships and premarital sex are often a crime.
That stigma has become a fact of life for one young man in Beirut, reached through a group that provides free support for people who are HIV-positive or suffer from AIDS.
“If I were to sum it up in one word, I would say my life is one big secret,” said the 29-year-old, who has known he is HIV-positive for three years.
“While I came out to my family a long time ago, this is something I have not shared with them. I could never burden them with that.”
Infection is typically concentrated among high-risk groups, including injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients.
“Life for someone carrying the HIV virus is very difficult... they suffer an inability to talk about the disease freely with people who are close to them, and we have cases where individuals were kicked out of the family,” said Brigitte Khoury, clinical psychologist at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre.
“So while some families do offer support, it’s mainly a life of secrecy, deception and living in fear of the worst.”
That fear, experts say, is often what keeps HIV-positive individuals from seeking treatment.
“Stigma and discrimination are among the primary reasons that people living with HIV or key populations at higher risk of HIV infection do not have access to essential HIV services,” Bodiroza said.
“These two factors also limit the ability of governments and civil society to provide services.”
Many states in the Arab world require that foreigners take an AIDS test before issuing visas or residency permits.
Making headlines this month was the case of a South African journalist who was deported from Qatar after being diagnosed with HIV and sacked by the satellite network Al-Jazeera.
Section27, a public interest legal group based in South Africa, has asked the country’s delegation to the International Labour Organisation to file a complaint against Qatar.
But some more liberal countries in the region have begun to publicise the problem, with a media campaign in Egypt and Lebanon hitting the airwaves and billboards last month.
The “Let’s Talk” campaign, which runs until the end of December, is organised by UNFPA in partnership with the two countries’ health ministries, and encourages people to be tested.
The campaign, which in Lebanon stars a former beauty queen and wildly popular band Mashrou3 Leila, also supplies a list of free and anonymous testing centres for both countries.
But despite the tentative progress, experts say governments are less likely than ever to turn their attention to the rising epidemic in a region gripped by political upheaval.
“The common thread that links all countries in the region is the impact of stigma and discrimination, which are (among) the primary reasons that people living with HIV or at-risk populations do not have access to essential services,” said Bodiroza.
“Without strong leadership, it is unlikely that these issues will be fully or properly addressed.”
To: James Oscar
Is the virulence of HIV changing? A meta-analysis of trends in prognostic markers of HIV disease progression and transmission
Herbeck, Joshua T.a; Müller, Viktorc; Maust, Brandon S.a; Ledergerber, Brunod; Torti, Carloe; Di Giambenedetto, Simonaf; Gras, Luukg; Günthard, Huldrych F.d; Jacobson, Lisa P.h; Mullins, James I.a,b; Gottlieb, Geoffrey S.b
Objective: The potential for changing HIV-1 virulence has significant implications for the AIDS epidemic, including changing HIV transmission rates, rapidity of disease progression, and timing of ART. Published data to date have provided conflicting results.
Design: We conducted a meta-analysis of changes in baseline CD4+ T-cell counts and set point plasma viral RNA load over time in order to establish whether summary trends are consistent with changing HIV-1 virulence.
Methods: We searched PubMed for studies of trends in HIV-1 prognostic markers of disease progression and supplemented findings with publications referenced in epidemiological or virulence studies. We identified 12 studies of trends in baseline CD4+ T-cell counts (21 052 total individuals), and eight studies of trends in set point viral loads (10 785 total individuals), spanning the years 19842010. Using random-effects meta-analysis, we estimated summary effect sizes for trends in HIV-1 plasma viral loads and CD4+ T-cell counts.
Results: Baseline CD4+ T-cell counts showed a summary trend of decreasing cell counts [effect = −4.93 cells/μl per year, 95% confidence interval (CI) −6.53 to −3.3]. Set point viral loads showed a summary trend of increasing plasma viral RNA loads (effect = 0.013 log10 copies/ml per year, 95% CI −0.001 to 0.03). The trend rates decelerated in recent years for both prognostic markers.
Conclusion: Our results are consistent with increased virulence of HIV-1
over the course of the epidemic. Extrapolating over the 30 years since the first description of AIDS, this represents a CD4+ T cells loss of approximately 148 cells/μl and a gain of 0.39 log10 copies/ml of viral RNA measured during early infection. These effect sizes would predict increasing rates of disease progression, and need for ART as well as increasing transmission risk.
14 January 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 193205
To: James Oscar
This is Free Republic’s most unreadable post ever.
posted on 01/14/2012 5:42:31 AM PST
(Every single decision Obama makes is to harm America.)
The “money” posts are at 90 and 91....Somebody predicts that HIV will become super airborn virulent perhaps mixing with swine or other flus and just take out the whole of the humman race within a few weeks...except for for a few folks and families who have had precognitive warnings of such an event and have already prepared.
I think I read this in a short story once...oh yes..The Masque of the Red Death...by Poe!
posted on 01/14/2012 6:37:19 AM PST
(Christ came not to make man into God but to restore fellowship of the Godhead with man.)
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