As horrific as the AIDS epidemic is, it has had one silver lining: it has implanted into the awareness of the medical community and the general public the importance of the body's immune system. Prior to the emergence of AIDS, few people were familiar with or cared about the immune system.
Now more than ever, the general public is interested in exploring ways to bolster immune response to prevent the progression of AIDS, as well as to reduce the number and intensity of opportunistic infections and to improve the overall state of their health. The medical community, however, has focused its AIDS resources on creating antiviral medications, which despite great hope and expectation have not achieved the results anticipated. In fact, the leading AIDS drug, AZT, has been found to prolong the lives of people with AIDS by only seven or eight months,1 but due to its side effects, the quality of life during this time is not high.
What is yet to be understood by the medical community is that they need to direct more attention and research to ways to augment immune response, rather than ways to inhibit viral replication. By strengthening a person's own defenses, the body is best enabled to defend itself.
Homeopathy is one way to do this. Although no therapy can or will help every HIV+ person or everyone with AIDS, homeopathy is beginning to develop a reputation for helping people at varying stages of this disease. To understand what homeopathy has to offer, it is necessary to learn something about a different approach to infectious disease than simply attacking a pathogen.
Louis Pasteur, who initially suggested that bacteria cause disease, later realized that bacteria may not necessarily be the "cause" of disease as much as the "results" of disease.2 Like Claude Bernard,3 the father of experimental physiology, Pasteur came to realize that the susceptibility of the individual, the "host resistance," was a greater determinant of the development of disease than the infective agent itself.
Despite the later recanting by Pasteur, he had already set in motion a medical mind set that focused entirely on eliminating pathogens and that ignored exploring ways to augment immune and defense response. Just as physicians and scientists are finally realizing the limitations and problems inherent in antibiotics as antimicrobial agents, antiviral drugs will inevitably suffer a similar fate. While physicians tend to know this both rationally and intuitively, they ignore these obvious problems in their clinical practice, in part because they don't know what else to do and in part because their biomedical paradigm limits their vision of alternatives to antimicrobial therapy.
As increasing numbers of physicians learn about homeopathic medicine, they will be exposed to viable alternative treatments which can play an integral role in the care and treatment of people with HIV and AIDS. A recent survey of physicians in the Netherlands verified this possibility. The survey showed that 50% of Dutch physicians instigated and supported the use of homeopathic and natural therapies in the treatment of people with AIDS.4
The best and most certain way to prevent AIDS is to avoid exchanging bodily fluids with people who are HIV+. Exposure to these bodily fluids most commonly occurs through sexual activity, sharing needles, or receiving blood transfusions. However, just because an individual is exposed to a person with HIV does not necessarily mean that the individual will get the virus. And further, just because an individual becomes infected with HIV does not necessarily mean that he or she will get AIDS.