Emerging New "HIV-Like" Infectious Disease in China
This website provides news and information on an emerging "HIV/AIDS-like" pathogen spreading throughout China, and quite likely across other countries around the world. This news and information about this new pathogen is derived from published scientific studies, Chinese research laboratory reports, Chinese hospital reports, Chinese media articles, as well as from web forums and blogs of infected patients themselves.
This new "HIV-like" pathogen is characterized by its ability to cause a significant overall deterioration in health in a subset of individuals who catch it. In particular, this pathogen can induce a sudden onset of powerful mental state changes, including extreme anxiety disorder, anhedonia, and suicidal ideation. These mental state changes are chronic, and persist for years.
This pathogen transmits via saliva, and nearly always infects all members of a household within a few months (and often within weeks), once one family member has caught the pathogen and brought it into the home. About 10% or so of the individuals who catch this new "HIV-like" virus become ill, but most people who catch it do not manifest any significant symptoms (this is not unusual for viruses: poliovirus for example, though it paralyzed a small percentage of people, was completely asymptomatic in most individuals).
The incubation period of this new "HIV-like" pathogen appears to be around 2 to 3 days (this is the time it takes for the first symptoms of this disease to appear after the initial exposure to the pathogen). Around 7 to 14 days after the initial exposure to the pathogen, many of the disease symptoms will have manifested.
This new "HIV-like" virus is probably not transmitted sexually, but is easily transmitted through kissing, which often takes place during sexual contact. This is why people who catch this virus mistakenly think they have caught a sexual disease. But in fact, once someone has caught this pathogen, it spreads to others, like friends and family, by ordinary household or workplace contact. So this pathogen is not to be considered a sexually transmitted pathogen, even though it is often caught from kissing during sex with a new partner (and is often caught from sex — even protected sex — with a prostitute, according to accounts from China).
The mental symptoms that this pathogen induces are the most problematic: this "HIV-like" virus can cause the sudden onset of severe psychological symptoms, including: constant extreme anxiety states (generalized anxiety disorder), depression, anhedonia, suicidal ideation, poor memory and cognitive dysfunction. These mental state changes appear to be physically caused by this virus (that is to say, caused by the apparent ability of this virus to alter brain biochemistry which then precipitates these mental state changes).
Due to the extreme anxiety states physically precipitated by this pathogen (and because it is often caught during sex) there are many cases of infected people whose severe generalized anxiety disorder causes them to take repeated HIV tests — sometimes 10 or more tests — even though the results are always negative. The extreme anxiety states precipitated by this virus impair judgement and disturb normal thought processes, leading to this irrational behavior of taking HIV tests over and over again. Nevertheless, it is wrong to ignore these infected people, as they do have a significant neurological viral infection that biochemically causes severe anxiety, and therefore these people are in a very high state of suffering.
Because of the extreme anxiety states triggered by this neurological pathogen, and because of the multiple HIV tests that some patients with this pathogen take, doctors in China have dubbed it the "fear of AIDS virus".
However, several major laboratories in China, including the Pasteur Institute of Shanghai and the Chinese CDC, have investigated the patients infected with this new pathogen and have determined that this pathogen is not a mutated HIV virus or a new HIV strain. So this fear of AIDS is unwarranted.
Nevertheless, although patients test negative for HIV, 40% of the infected patients with severe symptoms are found to have low CD4 cell count, as low as 200 CD4 cells per mm3 of blood (normal CD4 counts are in the range of 500 to 1500 cells). These patients also often have a raised CD8 count. The other 60% of infected patients have more-or-less normal CD4 levels. Some of the patients with low CD4 counts see their counts return to normal after a few years. Some people also experience a degree of remission from symptoms after around two years with this pathogen. These findings come from Dr Cai Weiping, an infectious disease specialist at the Guangzhou Eighth People's Hospital, and Dr Li Taisheng, Director of the Infectious Diseases Department at Beijing Union Medical College Hospital (see references 4 and 5 below).
In all cases, this Chinese "HIV-like" pathogen causes a chronic, persistent infection that does not disappear.
Although the Chinese government have tended to deny that this "HIV/AIDS-like" pathogen exists, many research scientists and doctors in China are aware of this "HIV-like" disease, and some very good researchers there have no doubts about its reality. However, to an extent, Chinese government censorship prevents these scientists and doctors from voicing their views too loudly.
Symptoms of the New Chinese "HIV-Like" Disease
Most or all of the following symptoms manifest in susceptible patients who contract the Chinese "HIV-Like" pathogen:
General: Continuous low-grade fever and flu-like feeling. Loss of appetite. Ongoing fatigue and weakness, with mental and physical fatigue after exertion. Inability to tolerate alcohol, with one or two drinks causing dizziness and higher inebriation than normal.
Throat: Chronic upper respiratory tract infections, chronic severe nasal congestion, nasal cavity infections. Dry mouth. Oral ulcers.
Tongue: White tongue coating, often with red spots on the tongue (see images of symptoms).
Gums: Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), bleeding gums (gingivostomatitis?), gum hyperemia. Sudden periodontal problems. Teeth may become loose.
Skin: Systemic red rash (purpura rash). Peeling skin particularly on palms of hands and soles of feet. Skin on face becomes oily. Skin becomes stiff and loses its elasticity, such that indentations made by finger pressure take a long time (about 5 seconds) to disappear. Subcutaneous nodules (nodular subepidermal fibrosis) may appear. Slow wound healing.
Chest: Chronic chest pain. Chest tightness. Shortness of breath. Fast heart rate (tachycardia).
Lymph Nodes: Swollen lymph nodes (especially in the lower jaw, and groin), lymph node pain.
Eyes: Red bloodshot eyes (conjunctivitis). Eye swelling.
Neurological: Dizziness, tinnitus, vertigo. Loss of hearing. Headache, nausea, drowsiness. Vision may deteriorate. Some patients may experience an episode of viral meningitis.
Psychological Changes: Extreme generalized anxiety disorder, depression, anhedonia, and powerful suicidal ideation. Poor memory, confusion and cognitive dysfunction.
Muscles and Peripheral Nerves: Persistent paresthesias ("pins and needles"). Hand and feet numbness. Constantly twitching muscles (benign fasciculation syndrome). Muscle pain.
Joints: Joints make cracking or popping sounds when moved (crepitus is the medical term for this sound). Overall pain and soreness of joints (arthralgias). Joints may become deformed.
Organ Damage and Hardening: Systemic organ damage (to liver, gallbladder, kidney, lung, intestine). Visceral organs start to harden (possibly similar to a scleroderma or fibrosis reaction?). Thyroid enlargement (thyroid hypertrophy).
Stomach and Intestines: A variety of gastrointestinal tract problems: chronic diarrhea, stomach ache, abdominal pain, belching (due to excess stomach gas), loose stools, melena (dark sticky stools of partly digested blood), blood in stool (mostly transient), mucus in stool.
Body Weight: Weight loss in the first 3 months; later there is often extra weight gain on the abdomen (central obesity).
Sleep: Poor sleep. Night sweats.
Nails: Nail loss. Loss or reduction of the white crescent-shaped area (lunula) at the base of fingernails.
Hair: Hair loss on the head as well as on the body.
Blood Tests: This "HIV-like" pathogen can cause a decrease of white blood cells. Around 40% of the infected patients with symptoms have low CD4 cells, as low as 200 CD4 cells per mm3 of blood, and raised CD8 counts. Though 60% of infected patients with symptoms have normal CD4 levels. CD3 cells in some patients are slightly lower than the reference value. Natural killer cells are normal.
Transmission of the Chinese "HIV-Like" Virus
This "HIV/AIDS-like" virus in China transmits via saliva, and thus this pathogen can spread easily by kissing. There are reports that this pathogen can also be spread by body sweat. A person infected with this pathogen remains able to infect others for a long period of time.
Normal Chinese mealtime custom involves family members sharing food from the same plate with their chopsticks; this may allow saliva from one infected person's mouth to contaminate the food, and then infect other family members. This sharing of food custom may explain why this pathogen is spreading fast in China.
The first year is the worst period for most patients with this Chinese "HIV-like" disease, but after a year or two, many patients report that their symptoms improve. The intense chest pain and severe generalized anxiety disorder tend to go away after a year or two with the "HIV-like" virus, and the severe anhedonia and its attendant suicidal ideation also tend to improve after this time. As mentioned above, laboratory reports show that low CD4 counts may also return to normal after a few years with this virus.
So for those who have just caught this virus, the hardest part is getting through the first year or so of intense chest pain, severe anxiety, and horrendous anhedonia with suicidal ideation, waiting for these symptoms to diminish. Many patients in China also report anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements are generally beneficial for treating the symptoms of the "HIV-like" virus.
However, many symptoms do remain indefinitely, including the fatigue, joint pains, gums problems, and skin symptoms.
Sources for above information: