AIDS without HIV

I have been doing a lot of reading about this. I know whether or not HIV causes AIDS or is the sole causal agent of AIDS is for the “debate” section but I’m looking for a factul reference

The websites all claim there are cases of people with AIDS but are NOT infected with HIV. This would seem to be clear. After all one can’t have rabies without the rabies virus.

But when I follow the links, even the ones that point to the CDC website the reference all says “AIDS LIKE” illness. Well German Measles are a MEASLES LIKE illness but clearly are not Measles.

Even Genital Herpes are LIKE oral herpes, but they are different viruses.

So the question is is there a case of AIDS without the HIV virus. If so is there a refernce that says AIDS and not had an AIDS LIKE illness.

Again I’m not looking to debate, I was just looking to for a backup or someone to explain the flaw in my logic.


I really don’t know, but AIDS does stand for Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome and I could see that possibly describing something not caused by HIV but by something else.

Totally a wild-assed guess as to why and probably wrong, just my two cents.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. There are some people who lose immune function in other ways, get a disease because of it, and then die. I wouldn’t call it AIDS because that is linked to HIV almost by definition but someone could try to bend it that way for unknown reasons.

As a matter of medical fact, AIDS is defined in part by the presence of HIV (plus one or more additional factors such as an opportunistic infection). So by definition, no, there has never been a case of AIDS without a corresponding HIV infection.

CDC AIDS information center

Well, since we don’t test directly for HIV, but for the antibodies, I suppose a person could “test negative for HIV” and still have a syndrome that fits AIDS criteria. Doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have HIV, but that they wouldn’t test positive for antibodies, right?

Related concept: I just had to get vaccinated for mumps, despite having had at least one MMR previously, because I “don’t test positive for mumps antibodies.” Similarly, I’m in the midst of my second three-shot series for Hepatitis B because I “don’t test positive for Hepatitis B antibodies.” Yet clearly I have been exposed to both of these (via prior vaccination). My MD told me that sometimes people never hit the antibody level, but that health care workers who’ve had the Hep B series twice and are exposed to Hep B by needlestick “have a hell of a response.”

Perhaps you’re thinking of idiopathic CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia?

While the initial tests for HIV are antibody tests, one can also test what’s known as HIV Viral Load. This is a measurement of the number of copies of the virus in the blood (I believe it is a PCR test). So it is a direct measurement of the virus.

Yes, they’re talking about idiopathic CD4 lymphocytopenia (ICL) - which just means “a deficiency of CD4+ T-cells for no apparent reason”, whereas in AIDS you have a deficiency of CD4+ cells caused by HIV. The loss of CD4+ cells is an unusual immune system defect that makes you vulnerable to certain rare infections, which is why AIDS was so quickly recognized as a new disease - but there’s no reason that a particular system in the body can only be damaged by one cause, so the existence of (still extremely rare) cases of ICL isn’t necessarily relevant to HIV/AIDS, any more than the existence of “blindness without glaucoma” means there’s no such thing as glaucoma. ICL doesn’t really behave like AIDS, either: the patients don’t usually suffer progressive loss of T-cells, they just stay low, and there’s been no evidence of contagion as far as I know. I don’t think the study of ICL has advanced much in the last 10 years, mostly because it is awfully rare; the consensus seems to be that some cases are due to genetic problems and others are still a total mystery.

It used to be somewhat mysterious how HIV caused CD4 cells to die (the “AIDS dissident” Peter Duesberg made much of this, claiming that because it didn’t behave like other pathogenic viruses he’d studied, it couldn’t possibly be harmful) - but immunology and virology have come a long way in the last 20 years, and there’s now a pretty strong consensus on how the virus works. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate directly into being able to stop it.

It’s admittedly confusing that the name of AIDS seems to just describe a general symptom (immune deficiency), but things often get named that way in medicine based on whatever the earliest investigators noticed first - for instance, diabetes was named after the symptom of excessive urination. Many clinicians now use “HIV disease” to refer to the infection in all of its stages, since the definition of AIDS only applies to a somewhat advanced stage.

Teacher’s Pet is right. Here’s an article.
There are actually many disorders that can cause CD4 lymphocytopenia, but ICL involves just the T lymphocytes.
SCIDS or Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome (boy in the bubble) is an example. SCIDS is an inborn error, that is correctable with bone marrow, or stem cell transplant.