A good friend of mine who lives in New Jersey phoned me a few weeks ago to talk about my experiences in Africa and to find out what on earth I’d been up to over there. After a few minutes of chit-chat, I realized that I was telling her stuff that was mostly online, right here, so I asked her, “Jeanne, when was the last time you were on the website?” She confided in me that while she loved what J2S was doing in Ghana and could appreciate the value in it; it depressed to read the stories, as it was sometimes a bit too much reality, to the point she felt guilty about the relative life of luxury we are afforded here in North America. “So Jay, why and how do you do it?”
To that end, I want to answer a few questions that seem to be on the cusp of many conversations, not just this one with Jeanne, “Why HIV, why Africa, and can Chiropractic help?” There is need at home right? So, why not work in, ohhh say Miami or Sacramento? Why not a less transferrable disease or less deadly one? If there is no cure for HIV, and all these millions of dollars being pumped into research, how does one set of hands, with no medicine help? Here are the answers from my perspective, and one great testimonial from an HIV patient.
If you were to look at the disease under an electron microscope, it just looks scary. In photos it looks like a spiky ball of death and fury; complete with claws, fangs, bad temper and a heinous “wicked witch of the west” cackle. I’m fairly certain Jeanne is wincing at the photo right now and wanting to switch on So You Think You Can Dance instead, but this is the reality, this virus is the perfect killing machine. According to the book 28 by Stephanie Nolen, (the book is named 28 in honor of the 28 million people in Africa infected with HIV today) a single drop of blood contains 100 million HIV viruses, each one ready to Velcro itself to another host cell where it will invade, commandeer, and replicate 10,000 other viruses just like itself.
Scared yet? Well, the body is strong and is able to mount a response. Even though the brain, pancreas, muscles and bones are all swimming in the stuff, the human response is to fight the disease by creating new “Killer T-cells.” Here starts the inevitable tug of war: the body fights back but the HIV mutates so it isn’t recognized. The “T-cells” adapt and start punting these mutations just in time for the virus to mutate again. This happens over and over, until eventually the immune system succumbs, not to the virus itself but to another normally “treatable” illness, like a cold or pneumonia. The scariest part of all is that the disease seems to be in total control; as if conducting an impetuous and catastrophic orchestra, it lets the immune system win enough battles for the human host to seem healthy for many years. Evolutionists marvel as the virus lets its heedless victim live long enough to allow this deadly convoy to proceed to the next host.
Western school of thought is often to assume that the victims of HIV are drug users, prostitutes, or over-promiscuous lovers. While this preconception holds true for a certain percentage of the population, there is a separate inconceivable truth for others. The virus chooses its hosts irrespective of their merit, and wives who’ve been betrayed by their one lover, families misled/abused by government, children born into a life which will be forever devoid of health, or a young, sexually abused, orphaned girl just trying to put bread on the table are all just as likely to be infected.
Millions of dollars are poured into research for HIV vaccines, antiretroviral treatment (ARVT) and education programs; and each of these areas has its own pros and varying degrees of success. Arguments can be made from people from all walks of life that one concentration is more important than another, but what is shown to be true is that HIV is still killing people. For every successful educational program to reach a village, there are a hundred truck drivers out there that believe it’s their cultural right to have unprotected sex with a different woman each night. For each successful ARVT treatment, there is a different viral permutation that takes place, and for vaccines, well I’d rather not even get into vaccines. So, what right does a Chiropractor have to jump into the HIV arena? The answer lies inside all of us, the neuro-immune response.
Chiropractors specialize in the nervous system. By looking to the spine and removing interference, the brain is able to properly communicate with the entire body through spinal and cranial nerves. When the nervous system is operating to the best of its ability, the immune system is afforded that same opportunity, subsequently fighting infection and disease (***Please read below for medical jargon and references about how the innate immune response affects infection). “Can a chiropractor “cure” disease or illness?” is an entirely separate question to “can an optimized immune system help the body better fight disease?” to which I would argue that the adjustment is vital towards an optimized neuro-immune response. Which brings me to children born with HIV…
Every hour around the world, around 31 children die as a result of AIDS and an overwhelming majority of these children– approximately 9 out of 10 – live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Coincidentally enough, nearly that same number, about 90%, of all children living with HIV acquired the infection from their mothers during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding (REF1). Aside from mother-to-child transmission, the remaining 10% of children are exposed to HIV in medical settings; for instance, through needles that have not been sterilized or blood transfusions where infected blood is used. These children were never given a chance, never was a question asked for them to make a choice about their lives; they were, instead, born into a life of disease and turmoil.
Yet, there is hope for many of these children. If HIV is detected in the early weeks, ARVT treatment can commence, proper precautions and programs can be initiated and a child born of an HIV positive parent doesn’t have to live a life of destituteness. This is where J2S comes in. If a child is fighting disease from the start and given treatment his body is stressed to the max. Wayne, a good friend of mine who is HIV positive, mentions how sometimes the side effects of these drugs make him wonder if it’s all really worth it. Fat is redistributed through the body, joints are attacked and if he misses a scheduled treatment time by and hour or two, then the virus starts to mutate again. Does ARVT stress the nervous system and subsequently the immune response? You betcha. I asked Wayne if he thought Chiropractic would be able to help these HIV kids, and this was his response:
“My biggest surprise in coming (to see a chiropractor) has been how much better I’ve felt. I was in a cane and wheelchair before care, and now I’m walking around. The tangible differences are so much more. I believe my care allows me to better tolerate the ARVT drugs and fight this thing. Symptoms that were always present, I have less often. Now the formulations infrequently change, and my dosage is staying the same [meaning the virus is mutating less often and less dramatically]. Not only am I having mobility increases, but also having better clarity of thought and mind. It is almost as if I am resonating on a higher frequency. Something inside me is different; I can feel it. Oh yeah, and all that other chiropractic stuff– low back and neck pain– well, that speaks for itself.”
This is why Africa; this is why HIV and this is how you, yes YOU, can make a difference TODAY. In September, the first steps will be taken to research (and publish in peer reviewed journals) just how far reaching specific chiropractic care can go in boosting the immune system of children born with HIV. Not all these young orphans, and there are about 30 of them, that I will work with on a daily basis will have to live with HIV, but most will. Your contribution makes all the difference to these children; even Jeanne glued to So You Think You Can Dance at home has made a difference. Please donate to Journey to Solidarity today.
***The neuroimmune response is characterized by a bi-directional communication between peripheral immune cells and the central nervous system. Of particular importance during times of infection is the activation of the centrally mediated febrile and corticosterone responses, which aid the innate immune system in the effective clearance of the pathogen while limiting the extent of inflammatory damage (Schobitz et al. 1994; Jiang et al. 1999). Inhibition of these innate immune responses has been shown to significantly affect the morbidity and mortality with infection (Kluger et al. 1998; Jiang et al. 2000; Nadeau & Rivest, 2003).
(Taken from Ellis et al, “Neonatal programming of the rat neuroimmune response: stimulus specific changes elicited by bacterial and viral mimetics” The Journal of Physiology,15 March 2006: 571, 695-701.)
Viewable online at http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v9n2/abs/nn1629.html
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