XMRV and CFS
By Patricia Fennell, MSW, LCSW-R
The report of an association between the retrovirus XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is extremely exciting. As someone who has been treating CFS patients for 20 years, I have been avidly following these reports and I congratulate the Whittemore Peterson Institute, Dr. Judy Mikovitz, and their colleagues on this important finding. I look forward to learning more about this breakthrough as they continue their vital research into XMRV, CFS and treatments for it.
I do think it's important to acknowledge that science moves slowly and, no matter how long you have been ill with CFS, it will never seem like science is moving quickly enough. This illness robs patients of so much—not only their health, but also their livelihood, predictability, social connections, security, self esteem and other fundamentals.
The scientists are working diligently, as they have for more than two decades, to unravel the mysteries of CFS and develop effective medical treatments for it. As they persevere with this new avenue to explore, we must continue taking care of those who suffer the effects of CFS—not just the patients, but also their families and loved ones who have also seen their lives change in so many significant ways.
As I have listened to my patients talk about XMRV in recent weeks, I have heard them express many emotions—first hope and excitement that scientists are closer to finding the answers that will return them to health, but also anger that so much of their lives has already been stolen by CFS, and concern over the potential implications of having a virus-associated illness. Change, even positive change, often produces new questions and stresses that we may not have considered before. We at Albany Health Management Associates are glad to be helping our patients and their families navigate more smoothly the road that lies ahead, wherever that road takes us.
For more information about XMRV and CFS, here are some links to articles and opinions from some of my colleagues in the battle against CFS and national journalists who have been investigating CFS for decades.
Dr. David Bell: http://www.davidsbell.com/PrintLynNewsV6N2.htm
Dr. Charles Lapp: http://www.drlapp.net/ME_letterOct09P.pdf
Dr. Suzanne Vernon (CFIDS Association): http://www.cfids.org/cfidslink/2009/110402.asp
Whittemore-Peterson Institute: http://www.wpinstitute.org/xmrv/xmrv_qa.html