Blog: Dispelling Misconceptions

“AIDS is from America”

Paris. Circa 1986.  I was sitting in a hotel lobby, talking with some European and African people about AIDS. The Africans said everyone in Africa thinks AIDS comes from Europe. The Europeans said people in Europe think AIDS is from America.  I said that most Americans think AIDS comes from Africa.  Everyone laughed.

The opinion of the Europeans and Africans was supported by much of the medical literature before 1985.  Essentially, before the African monkey narrative took hold, the United States was recognized as the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic.  The perspective that AIDS is from America was portrayed throughout the medical literature of the time. Continue reading

Phylogenetic Study claims HIV Migrated from Africa through Haiti to USA

As mentioned in the previous post [1], the Patient Zero meme instigated by the findings of Worobey et al cascaded through the general, medical, and scientific media alike. Trends in Microbiology published an editorial praising the work of Worobey et al for dispelling the Patient Zero myth, and also highlighting Worobey’s conclusion that HIV migrated to the USA from Africa via Haiti [2, 3].

The editorial supported the Africa-Haiti origin concept by listing three “plausible scenarios” for the migration of HIV from the Caribbean (i.e., Haiti) to the USA HIV transmission from Haiti to the USA [2]:

     (1) Caribbean immigrants;

     (2) American sex tourists; and

     (3) contaminated commercial blood products.

     In our view, these “plausible scenarios” should be treated more cautiously and the possibility that HIV migrated from the USA to Haiti should be treated more seriously.  Haiti got all the press, but 5 years into the AIDS epidemic (1986), Bermuda that had the highest AIDS rate in the world, as seen in Table 1. Continue reading

Patient Zero did not introduce HIV into the United States!

Not too long ago, this story was a meme cascading through the media. All emanating from a phylogenetic analysis published in Nature, 1970s and ‘Patient 0’ HIV-1 genomes illuminate early HIV/AIDS history in North America [1].

The authors of this phylogenetic analysis (Worobey et al) also concluded that HIV migrated to the USA from Africa via Haiti. However, extensive epidemiological evidence suggests the Africa-Haiti-USA historical narrative is just as incorrect as the narrative regarding Patient Zero.

Stuart Derbyshire and I wrote a Letter to the Editors of Nature in response to conclusions of Worobey et al. At the kind invitation of the Editors, our response is posted on the Nature website. (Update:  Our comment is now available only to paid subscribers of Nature). Given the allowance of 300 words and 3 references, the response cites a limited portion of available epidemiological data refuting this concept. Alternately, the response containing the full complement of 13 references is posted below.

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blog_logoJames Chin, MD, MPH was the former Chief of the Surveillance, Forecasting, and Impact Assessment Unit for the Global Programme on AIDS (GPA) at the World Health Organization (WHO) between 1987 and 1992.  From hearsay, I understand that Dr. Chin quit WHO in protest over WHO’s consistent use and distribution of the highest computer estimates for global HIV/AIDS statistics.

Nevertheless, he did not leave quietly, and trumpeted his views in the booklet The Myth of a General AIDS Pandemic: How billions are wasted on unnecessary AIDS prevention programmes.  The title of this document is forthright, and it contains strong words inside as well: Continue reading

[Continued from HIV / AIDS Statistics in South Africa: and the Possible Implications for the Treatment and Diagnostic Industries (Part 1)]

As described in Part I of this article, few people realize that the familiar HIV/ AIDS global statistics are actually estimates. For example, UNAIDS estimated that the Republic of South Africa had 140,000 HIV / AIDS deaths in 1997 [1]. However, after tabulating all death certificates for 1997, the Republic of South Africa attributed only 6,635 deaths to HIV / AIDS [2].

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The situation with the African HIV / AIDS epidemic is analogous to that of the global finance crisis. Thousands of diligent people are investing money, effort, heart and soul into a false conceptual paradigm, while a small number of people aware of the situation are unconscionably reaping financial and professional rewards. Relative to HIV / AIDS, the false operative paradigm is that HIV / AIDS is devastatingly epidemic in Africa.

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blog_logoThe concept that HIV is the product of biological warfare research is a popular.  Unlike the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) – the other well-known, blood-borne, viral disease organism, which had been endemic worldwide for decades – HIV had come rocketing up out of nowhere.

For some, the pronouncements of the Soviet KGB provided substantiation of this theory. The KGB broadcast that the CIA had experimented with HIV, and it had escaped from their laboratories. Continue reading

blog_logoRoger England is Chairman of the Health Systems Workshop, Grenada.  His analyses and commentaries are lightly sprinkled through the scientific literature.  The Writing is on the Wall for UNAIDS was England’s editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), May 2008.  England criticizes the rampant “exceptionalism” granted to HIV/AIDS across many domains.

In one strong statement, England writes: Continue reading

blog_logoIn the words of René Dubos: “It’s easy to think you are emptying the ocean with a bucket when the tide is going out.”

Perhaps I paraphrase. The quote is derived from Dubos’ book, Mirage of Health. His writing is focused on the history of science and a wonderful discourse on the cyclic and repetitive nature of social thought and concepts of health and disease. To quote an Amazon.com reviewer: “extremely interesting reading for anyone interested in humanity, disease, science and history.” Continue reading

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