Viruses found but 'negative Aids' ruled out among patients
Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
Leading Guangzhou doctor Zhong Nanshan says his researchers found no evidence to support claims that a group of patients suffered from so-called negative Aids.
But he did not entirely concur with government findings that the group was basically healthy apart from psychological issues.
'Our finding is largely consistent with that of the Ministry of Health,' Zhong said in Guangzhou yesterday. 'We've found these patients were not HIV carriers and that their conditions were exacerbated by psychological factors such as depression.'
He headed a team of medical researchers at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical College that collected more than 260 samples from 60 patients from March 31 to Tuesday. After clinical observation, they decided to test the patients for six common viruses. Their studies found 80 per cent tested positive for at least one of the six viruses.
Of these 48 patients, 33 tested positive for the Epstein-Barr virus, a form of herpes. The other five viruses were related to high-risk sexual contact. He said 12 patients agreed to sit psychological tests and seven were found to have abnormal conditions.
'We are of the opinion that their conditions could be made worse due to psychological factors,' he said. 'However, we do not agree that there was nothing wrong with the patients. We have found them carrying viruses that could be contracted via unprotected sex. A large majority of these patients had extramarital sex and their symptoms were triggered or became obvious right after the sex act.'
Zhong said he could not conclude they were simply suffering from sexually transmitted diseases. There was also no evidence suggesting there was a new, unknown virus affecting the patients and further studies and tests would be needed before they could confirm a diagnosis.
Zhong urged people to avoid unprotected sex and stop sharing dishes in order to prevent contact with such viruses.
The health ministry began receiving reports about 'negative Aids' in June 2009 but could not conduct research because the reports were anonymous. The national Centre for Disease Control and Prevention established contact with a group of people on the internet from September 2009 to January last year and conducted research among 59 volunteers. The patients tested negative for HIV and another virus that can cause fatigue, but the centre's findings were not accepted by the 59 volunteers. The centre sent their blood samples to a laboratory in the United States for testing, which confirmed they had not contracted HIV.
Since then, the ministry ordered Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang , Jiangsu , Hunan and Guangdong to study the problem in February and March, covering 40 people, including 15 who took part in the first round of research.
Results of the blood tests were basically normal, there was no indication of any contagious disease and their immune systems were normal.