Since 1981, research physiologist Joan McKenna has worked with AIDS patients to advocate the highest quality of care and the most advanced and sound research for building and strengthening the immune system. In 1983, she discovered a causative relationship between a history of syphilis and the later development of AIDS.

 In 1986, "Unmasking AIDS: Chemical Immunosuppression and Seronegative Syphilis" by J.J. McKenna et al was published in the highly respected journal of cutting edge science and medicine, Medical Hypothesis.

Evidence supporting McKenna's discovery began appearing at conferences. The Los Angeles Department of Health, the New York City and New York State Departments of Health, state and county public health laboratories, university laboratories, the Canadian Ministry of Health, and the international community confirmed the extraordinary correlation between a history of syphilis and the development of AIDS, the failure of standard serological and confirmatory tests to detect syphilis, and the questionable effectiveness of CDC guidelines for adequate treatment.

CDC was forced to re-examine its posture on the issues of syphilis and AIDS and began to back peddle. Articles appeared in JAMA reminding physicians that CDC was only an advisory agency and that it was the physicians' responsibility to assure that adequate treatment for syphilis was not causing  resurgence and further complications including later immune suppression. The CDC reminded everyone that, as an advisory body, it did not make public policies or guarantee that its recommendations for testing and treatment be considered adequate. States could set higher standards than the CDC minimum.

Insurance companies began to disqualify individuals with a history of syphilis from new coverage as the AIDS/Syphilis correlation emerged. Test manufacturers were forced by McKenna's continuing research to submit their tests to CDC evaluation where the reagents were found to be inadequate to accurately test for syphilis on known syphilitic sera provided by the CDC. The liability issues for the CDC, the U.S. Military, the U.S. Public Health Service, the test manufacturers and the drug companies were staggering.  

McKenna's work and personal reputation were attacked. Death threats forced the closure of the Institute that had enabled hundreds of AIDS and ARC patients and their families to receive inexpensive, quality education and support for themselves and each other.

Quietly, outside of the public eye, the research continued. McKenna shifted from the public arena to research effective treatment and and rebuilding immune competence. Continuing to ask questions, to hold the CDC accountable, to follow the trail of chemical immune suppressions and lack of government accountability, Joan McKenna involved researchers world wide in the re-evaluation of testing, treatment and policies on syphilis and its relationship to AIDS.

 In 1991, at the Conference for the International Society for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Dr. Sandra Larsen, Chief of Treponemal Research at the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, acknowledged that the same configurations of opportunistic infections and cancers, including the lymphomas, occurred in AIDS and syphilis. Research indicated that the tests for syphilis may be inadequate to determine its presence in an individual with a prior history of syphilis, chemical or drug immune suppression, or diagnosed with HIV. No one notified the FDA or the Public Health Service or the people who had been screened with defective tests, treated inadequately or not treated at all. Informally, the statisticians at the CDC estimated one million undiagnosed cases of syphilis in the U.S. in 1991.

 Over the next nine years, researchers throughout the world confirmed an unrecognized epidemic of syphilis, the failure of tests and existing procedures, the inadequacy of current levels of treatment in advanced and immune suppressed syphilis and the profound suspicion that AIDS was the direct result of public health polices in the diagnosis and treatment of syphilis .

 As McKenna saw the problems with testing, the issue of adequate treatment resurfaced. Earlier efforts to treat AIDS patients with syphilis protocols recommended by the CDC had only partial success and much research was discredited due to unscrupulous individuals without hospital privileges who thought to profit by pharmaceutical experimentations and haphazard treatment.

 McKenna's research continued, slowly, without government or any public funding, in cooperation with courageous and dedicated researchers in nine countries.   by 2001, the evidence for US government involvement in the spread of syphilis and  development of  immune suppression leading to AIDS in Africa and Latin America led the US government to declare AIDS and HIV "matters of National Security".  Anyone speaking or publishing on any alternative view of AIDS and HIV became subject to arrest for treason.

The current spin from the US government is that syphilis and other diseases causing lesions make it easier to transmit viral infections.

Now, in a series of Special Reports scheduled for 2008, Joan McKenna will share the findings, the questions and the challenges of a cure for AIDS , the issues of seronegative syphilis of epidemic proportions, and the management and assessment of risk to first responders, health workers and caretakers.

 Representatives of HIV positive and AIDS patients, AIDS organizations, hospice services, health care providers and physicians, HMOs and public agencies are encouraged to join the email list to be notified of available publications.

To be placed on the email list, send an email with your name and organization to jmckenna@LMI.net

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Surgeon General Koop announced that we were in the largest pandemic of syphilis since the middle ages and was encouraged to resign his position. The CDC staff under the Bush administration was instructed to shred the files on the AIDS and Syphilis controversy. It has not gone away.

 Joan McKenna provides an overview of the AIDS and Syphilis research, updates on the problems of testing and diagnosis of syphilis in immune suppressed population, looks at the politics and pressures of the CDC's public and research posture, briefs on the policy changes occurring in public health and treatment facilities, reports on new findings on specific dynamics of immune suppression in AIDS patients and recovery options, discusses tests that will give an early warning of seronegative syphilis infections and the developing research on reconstituting immune competence in AIDS patients.

Recommended for representatives of AIDS organizations, social services, hospice services, medical and dental physicians and nurses, paramedics, laboratory personnel and first responders, HMOs and public agencies. Included in the forthcoming publications are

 Assessment of Risk for Latent and Seronegative Syphilis

Safety Procedures or Health and Care Professionals

Baseline and Monitoring of Health Status for Immune Suppressed

Treatment Options

Shared responsibilities

Issues Effecting Differential Diagnosis of Syphilis in a Chemically Immune Suppressed Society

When Policy Prevents Detection

Full Disclosure and Legal Exposure

Standard of Care vs Anomalous Presentations

John Stokes Revisited

Determining Adequacy of Treatment