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AIDS, Africa and Racism

by Richard and Rosalind Chirimuuta

£6 paperback, £14 hardback

A prominent feature of the official AIDS mythology is the belief that the syndrome originated in Africa. The prevailing AIDS mythology (or delusional system) runs roughly as follows: The acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a new disease, which appeared and began causing illness in human beings only within the past decade or two. Despite its many and varied manifestations (pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), interstitial pneumonia, Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), lymphoma, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, mycobacterium tuberculosis, salmonella, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, cytomegalovirus, Hodgkin’s disease, multifocal leukoencephalopathy, encephalitis, meningitis, vascular myelopathy, candida albicans, hairy leukoplakia, “slim disease”, etc.), AIDS represents a single disease entity, which is characterized by depressed cellular immunity. AIDS has a single cause, which is a microbe, which is a virus, which has been “identified” as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, aka LAV, HTLV-III, et al.), which originated in the Dark Continent, Africa.

AIDS, Africa and Racism argues persuasively against the AIDS-from-Africa hypothesis, as well as the media portrayal of Africa as a continent ravaged by AIDS, with millions of people doomed and dying from “infection” with the “AIDS virus”. In the process, Richard and Rosalind Chirimuuta expose much extraordinarily shoddy “epidemiology” on the part of American and European investigators. Although the authors seem to acquiesce in the view that HIV is the cause of AIDS, they do so with little conviction; the thrust of their arguments argues against the HIV etiology as well as other aspects of the AIDS mythology.

From the very beginning, investigators from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were in a conceptual muddle. Having leaped to the conclusion that gay men with KS and intravenous drug users with PCP were afflicted with the same, new malady, they then discovered “opportunistic infections in ten previously healthy heterosexual Haitian men”, and decided that these cases should be grouped under the same rubric, “acquired immune deficiency”. Yet, six of the ten Haitians were suffering from tuberculosis, and 4 from toxoplasmosis, both of which are endemic in Haiti. In other words, these men in Haiti would have been diagnosed as having common, if serious, diseases; in the United States, where tuberculosis and toxoplasmosis are uncommon, the same men were diagnosed as having AIDS, a disease which the world had allegedly never seen before.

The hunt for a Haitian connection was on. Haitians were accused of infecting America, with drastic political consequences. All over the United States, healthy Haitians were fired from their jobs and evicted from their homes. Perceptions of AIDS shifted, from being the “gay plague” to being the “Haitian disease”. In their zeal to deny that AIDS was in any way connected to homosexuality, such writers as Dennis Altman accepted and propagated the Haitian, and subsequently the African connection. In his book AIDS in the Mind of America, Altman uncritically put forward the following as a possible explanation:

One suggestion was that African monkeys, possible carriers of AIDS, were imported into Haiti and kept as pets in male brothels.

The “suggestion” is ridiculous, considering how very difficult it is to transmit HIV. What exactly were the monkeys supposed to be doing: running around biting the customers? exchanging bodily fluids with them? sharing needles?

For various reasons, the Haitian hypothesis fell out of favor, and the search turned to Central Africa. What then happened then is summarized eloquently by the Chirimuutas in their final chapter, “Racism or Science?”:

European doctors had diagnosed AIDS in a number of patients of central African origin residing in Europe, and concluded that out there, perhaps lurking in the steaming African jungles, were thousands or even millions more. In their imaginations they conjured up some ‘isolated tribe’ who may have harboured the virus for centuries, transmitting it to the rest of the world subsequent to the arrival of Western ‘civilisation’.

With a singlemindedness of purpose doctors from the West arrived in Africa and set about their task. They gathered together groups of sick and dying patients, and diagnosed them as suffering from AIDS to the exclusion of all other possibilities. Without the ethical constraints that applied in their own countries, they conducted small and unreliable seroepidemiological surveys that ‘proved’ that millions of Africans were infected with the virus. They barely paused to question, let alone explain why so few of these seropositive people showed any evidence of the disease. To prove the disease had originated in Africa they fetched old blood samples collected on previous safaris from the bottom of their freezers, and subjected them to the same unreliable tests. And then they broke the news to a Western public eager for yet another story of millions dying in Africa.

The mind-boggling incompetence of the European investigators is epitomized by a Belgian team, which went to Kinshasa for three weeks, in which time they encountered 38 patients whom they diagnosed as having “AIDS”. They then figured out how many cases this would amount to in a year’s time, divided that by the total population of Kinshasa, and estimated an annual rate of developing AIDS in that country to be “about 17 per 100,000”.

A chapter, “Seroepidemiology”, exposes more foolishness. A study conducted in Kenya by 12 researchers, including Robert J. Biggar and Robert C. Gallo, tested blood samples for HIV antibodies, using the notoriously unreliable ELISA test. They found that overall 21% of the population were seropositive, and in one ethnic group, the Turkana, 50% were positive. However, paradoxically, there were no cases of “AIDS”.

Another team dug into their deep freezers and analyzed blood collected in Uganda in 1972, finding an overall positive rate of 66%. Nevertheless, no AIDS cases had been recognized in Uganda, despite the fact that eminent scientists such as Professor Burkitt had carried on extensive research for many years in that country.

It was left to I. Wendler, J. Schneider and their fellow researchers from West Germany to deflate the specter of an entire continent doomed from infection with the “AIDS virus”. They examined thousands of serum samples from subjects in Central Africa, and found that only four samples contained HIV antibodies. Their conclusion, as stated in “Seroepidemiology of human immunodeficiency virus in Africa” ( British Medical Journal, September 27, 1986):

These data show that fewer than one in 1000 subjects were seropositive for AIDS [sic] at the time of sampling before 1985 and do not support the hypothesis of the disease originating in Africa.

The Germans determined that whereas 10% of the serum samples were positive with the ELISA test, only 0.07% were on more specific tests. Only one out of 143 positive ELISA tests was a true positive. In other words, 99.3% of the ELISA results were false positives; the ELISA test overestimated seropositivity by a factor of almost 150 to 1. Since the German findings elicited cognitive dissonance, in the context of the prevailing AIDS mythology, they were ignored.

Researchers in Venezuela tested blood samples from Amazonian Indians, and found seropositivity rates ranging from 3.3% to 13.3%, though with no reported cases of “AIDS”. These findings might be interpreted as meaning: 1) HIV is not the cause of AIDS; 2) AIDS did not originate in Africa; and/or 3) the serological results were false positives. Unable to contemplate the first two possibilities, Biggar speculated that the seropositive readings in Venezuela were caused by malaria antibodies, to which the ELISA test reacted. Interestingly, malaria is endemic not only in Venezuela, but in Central Africa as well.

Robert C. Gallo and some Monkey Business

As readers of the Native will anticipate, Robert C. Gallo and his colleagues in the National Cancer Institute come out second to none for absurdities. The Chirimuutas devote a chapter, “Robert C. Gallo and some Monkey Business”, to the foibles and “racial obsessions” of the man who is widely regarded as the world’s foremost AIDS expert.

Gallo’s fixation on Africa goes back before the advent of AIDS. Gallo’s reputation is based on his discovery of the retrovirus, HTLV-1, which he claims is the cause of leukemia. (The claim that HTLV-1 causes leukemia was thoroughly refuted by Peter H. Duesberg in the March 1, 1987 issue of Cancer Research, in the same paper in which he debunked the claim that HIV causes AIDS. In more than a year’s time, Gallo has failed to respond to Duesberg’s critique.) HTLV-1 had been isolated from people in Japan, Alaska, South America, the West Indies, and Africa; it had been isolated from Asian macaque monkeys and from African green monkeys. This epidemiological picture would hardly seem to support the notion of an African origin for HTLV-1, but Gallo was not deterred. He speculated that “HTLV may have been brought to people in Japan by the 16th century Portuguese adventurers and seamen who not only had contact with Africans but also arrived and lived in regions of Japan.” To bolster his theory, Gallo displayed a 16th century painting depicting Portuguese merchants with an African slave.

The Chirimuutas point out a number of historical loopholes in Gallo’s theory, the most glaring being:

the transportation of over 10 million slaves from Africa to the New World over a period of several centuries. If slaves had indeed infected the Portuguese and through them the Japanese, then why did this piece of poetic justice not extend to the more deserving white America where slaves were regularly raped?

Gallo finally was forced to concede there were some “flaws” in his hypothesis, but he staunchly refused to relinquish it. In “The First Human Retrovirus” ( Scientific American, December 1986), he wrote:

This hypothesis has recently been challenged by the finding that HTLV-1 infection is common among the Ainu people living on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost major island – an area where the Portuguese did not go. For the time being, however, it remains a plausible explanation of the global pattern of spread.

In the face of so much counterevidence, for Gallo to regard his hypothesis as “plausible” amounts to a form of dementia, on whose cause I refrain from speculating.

For some reason Gallo and other American and European researchers were obsessed with African monkeys, and the possibility that HTLV-1 and later HIV crossed the species barrier, from infra-human to human primates. Antibodies to a simian retrovirus, STLV-3 (reminiscent of Gallo’s HTLV-3?) were found in African Green monkeys, all of whom were quite healthy. On the basis of this finding, the imaginations of epidemiologists and other “AIDS experts” ran wild. No explanation for how the virus crossed the species barrier was too bizarre or ridiculous to find its way into print. In 1986, two “experts” from St. Mary’s Hospital, J. Green and D. Miller, in AIDS: The Story of a Disease, wrote:

Monkeys are often hunted for food in Africa. It may be that a hunting accident of some sort, or an accident in preparation for cooking, brought people in contact with infected blood. Once caught, monkeys are often kept in huts for some time before they are eaten. Dead monkeys are sometimes used as toys by African children.

Only sick minds could have conceived and written this rubbish. Only unbelievably sloppy or cynical editors could have allowed it to be published. The picture is gruesomely unforgettable: an African child playing with the rotting carcass of a monkey! Confronted with morbid fantasies of this sort, I think the Chirimuutas are justified in asserting that obsessions with a monkey origin of the virus “cohabit easily with racist notions that Africans are evolutionarily closer to sub-human primates.”

These is much more in AIDS Africa and Racism, including an account of a shadowy international organization, the Panos Institute, which in 1986 published a dossier called “AIDS and the Third World” The “dossier”, containing numerous inaccuracies and few references, formed the script which the Western media followed in ever more sensational reporting on the “African disease”. In England, the “serious press” acted no more responsibly than the gutter press, shrieking about “a catastrophic epidemic of Aids…sweeping across Africa…infected several millions of Africans…hundreds of thousands doomed to die…inevitable spread of the epidemic out of Africa…hideous, unmanageable disaster” ( The Times, October 27, 1986).

AIDS, Africa and Racism is essential reading for everyone attempting to follow the AIDS phenomenon in all of its scientific and political aspects. The book is well-written, and contains a useful glossary, index, and appendices. I think the Chirimuutas succeed in their primary objective, to demonstrate that there is little if any evidentiary support for the AIDS-from-Africa hypothesis. I think they are also justified in believing that the work of American and European investigators was characterized by racism, in addition to incompetence.

Note: This book was published by the authors. If not available in gay bookstores, the book can be ordered directly from Richard Chirimuuta, Bretby House, Stanhope, Bretby, Nr Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, DE15 0PT, England, for 6 pounds sterling (paperback) or 14 pounds sterling (hardback) postfree. For airmail, I’d add another 2 pounds. Payment should be in pounds sterling, either a draft on a London bank or an international money order.