The Ugly Truth About Mold Toxins Tied To AIDS Epidemic

Poisons produced by fungi that grow on moldy peanuts and corn may be worsening Africa’s AIDS crisis

Poisons produced by fungi that grow on moldy peanuts and corn may be worsening Africa’s AIDS crisis

Culled from The New York Times: By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

Aflatoxins — poisons produced by fungi that grow on moldy peanuts and corn — may be worsening Africa’s AIDS epidemic by helping suppress the immune systems of newly infected people, a new study has found.

The study, by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and published recently in the World Mycotoxin Journal, measured blood levels of aflatoxins and H.I.V. in 314 Ghanaians who had never taken antiviral drugs.

The more aflatoxins they had, the more likely they were to have high blood levels of H.I.V. — even those with higher levels of CD4 blood cells, meaning they had not been infected long and were not yet eligible for triple-therapy cocktails under the latest World Health Organization guidelines.


The toxins, produced by aspergillus fungi that grow on damp grains, nuts and beans, are so common as to be almost unavoidable in humid climates, but so dangerous that federal law limits concentrations in food to 20 parts per billion. American peanut-butter makers are always on the watch for them. Ground peanuts are a staple food of West Africa.