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Retrovirus XMRV and Hope for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

By HERWriter
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As someone who has wrestled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 17 years, I've gorged myself on recent headlines about the retrovirus XMRV. I've reminded myself it's too soon to know what it means for me and the vast, beleaguered CFS masses. Still, hope and speculation persists.

In one study, 95% of CFS patients showed XMRV antibodies, and 4% of the healthy controls. Elsewhere, 67% of CFS patients had XMRV. So did 3.7% of the controls.

This suggests then, that not everyone with CFS has XMRV. And maybe some healthy people carry this retrovirus.

So, maybe I don't have it. Maybe you don't. This information may be of no use to us personally.

Maybe, maybe, maybe ...

Nevertheless, it lends weight to the fact that real physiological havoc is indeed taking place in the bodies of people with CFS. That in itself is good news.

I'm repeatedly surprised by those declaring there's nothing wrong with us physically, that it's all in our heads. A little therapy, some antidepressants and getting off our duffs, and we'll be right as rain. That this is depression and we should admit it and get on with things.

Depression is a terrible thing. But it's no more CFS than are epilepsy or a broken leg. I'm hoping these new findings lead the spotlight away from such destructive notions, and in the direction of finding a cure for what IS wrong with us. That will tackle the vertigo, the orthostatic intolerance, the post-exertional malaise, the immune dysfunction, the central nervous system snarls.

XMRV joins with one's DNA. It actually changes the DNA into a new thing with an XMRV twist, taking up permanent residence. That means, if we're infected, we'll stay infected the rest of our lives unless research finds a cure.

This scenario of chronic infection certainly fits the CFS pattern many experience. We may have periods of improvement, sometimes to a spectacular degree. Then we plummet, often without warning, as apparently the retrovirus flexes its muscles yet again. XMRV makes a complicated mess of the immune system, bringing on bizarre, confusing and seemingly contradictory symptoms to the sufferer.

I hope the current research heralds an answer for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I hope it brings healing for me. But whatever the future holds, I'm thankful to these researchers for bucking political correctness about CFS and treating it like the scourge it is. May this be the beginning of a bright new trend.


Bringing the Heat: An ME/CFS Blog

ME/CFS Forums at the Phoenix Rising

ME/CFS Forums at the Phoenix Rising: XMRV / XAND

Study isolates virus in chronic fatigue sufferers

Science News: Retrovirus might be culprit in chronic fatigue syndrome

Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease: XMRV Q & A

Retrovirus Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Could Aid in Diagnosis

Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Add a Comment13 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Fully agree with the article. My CFS is ten years in after getting glandular fever. My illness is without doubt a physical illness and nothing to do with depression or mental problem or lazyness. The XMRV possible explanation feels very reasonable. For the first time I feel it is reasonable to have hope. I am feeling that there is a 50% chance that a CFS diagnostic test maybe be accessable within 1 year. This would be a very welcome first step (even though I already know I have CFS.) If treatment drugs become available in 5 years, then I would settle for that right now.

October 15, 2009 - 11:13am

Good question. I don't know the answer. I suppose the more research and the more knowledge they have about any given illness, the better.

You are wondering, and so am I, if the retrovirus is actually a cause of CFS, or a result of something else.

We can only wait and see where the research takes us I think. And speculate along the way -- reminding ourselves it is only speculation at this point. We just need to be patient and keep up with any new research findings.

Thanks for your comment.

October 15, 2009 - 11:09am
EmpowHER Guest

what if they find a virus or such in depression or schzophreina too ? those diseases also have their own chemical differences, for ex schzophrenics have much more infections than the normal population .. i think the problem is the medical society had long ago gave up lookin for real anwsers for diseases hard to identify and began treating the sypmtoms only ( which is also much more profitable ) .. xmrv can be a bigger revolution than recognised at the moment i guess ..

October 15, 2009 - 10:50am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.