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‘The Geography of Blame’ — Haiti, AIDS and Racism in the Mainstream Media
by William Bowles Thursday, November 15, 2007 12:26

Nobody bothers much about what’s happening in Haiti these days until that is, a spurious piece of work appears which asserts that AIDs made its way to the US from Haiti via a single individual, then and only then does Haiti makes the headlines.

Now where and how AIDS first appeared is the subject of some debate but it would seem that the mostly likely source are the kidneys of chimpanzees infected with a simian variant of the HIV retrovirus used in the making and testing of an oral Polio vaccine in the Congo and elsewhere in West-Central Africa in the late 1950s,

“…as a result of American and European medical interventions in Africa during the 1950’s—and specifically the administration of more than one million doses of an experimental oral polio vaccine, some batches of which may have been manufactured from chimp kidneys.”[1]

Of course, these interventions took place decades ago and there are no records (and only one blood sample from the period which tested negative for HIV) which seems to be pretty much par for the course when it comes to testing drugs in the poor countries of the world, which is surely the major reason Western corporations and research institutes go there in the first place; fewer controls and oversight and lots of poor people only too willing to become guinea pigs for a few bucks.

“It is now generally accepted that HIV is a descendant of a Simian Immunodeficiency Virus because certain strains of SIVs bear a very close resemblance to HIV-1 and HIV-2, the two types of HIV.

“HIV-2 for example corresponds to SIVsm, a strain of the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus found in the sooty mangabey (also known as the green monkey), which is indigenous to western Africa.

“The more virulent, pandemic strain of HIV, namely HIV-1, was until recently more difficult to place. Until 1999, the closest counterpart that had been identified was SIVcpz, the SIV found in chimpanzees. However, this virus still had certain significant differences from HIV.”[2]

The big question is how did it make the jump from either monkeys or chimps to humans? Predictably, the orthodox view is called the ‘Cut Hunter’ hypothesis which conveniently puts the ‘blame’ on an African hunter who killed an ape of some kind and somehow got infected with the simian version and then it mutated into the the most common version, HIV-I. But the evidence for this is non-existent, Hooper’s interpretation is just as likely to be the source and perhaps even more so given the circumstances.[3]

There appear to be three common denominators all of which centre on Central-West Africa, in particular the Congo:

1) A very similar disease is found in apes and monkeys in the region the organs of which were used in the creation of some of the Polio vaccines tested on humans;
2) The large-scale vaccine testing that took place in the same region in the 1950s;
3) The movements of large numbers of Europeans and North Americans to and from Central-West Africa during that period, anyone of whom could have been infected (including Haitians).

‘Hooper deserves great praise for having so tenaciously carried through his investigation and for bringing to light so many more facts affecting the main questions. He has in fact given us the best history of the epidemic.’ — Biologist William D. Hamilton, Oxford University (See Hooper’s homepage,

The pivot of Edward Hooper’s book hinges on the tainted vaccine hypothesis.[4] As to how AIDS found its way to the US is neither here nor there, and if Hooper’s contention is true, then whether by accident (ie ignorance) or neglect, that is to say, sloppy work, because who is going to complain? in all likelyhood AIDS ultimately has a Western origin with the vaccine tests (the earliest known occurrence of AIDS in the US is the early 1960s, thus blaming any single individual is not only pointless but extremely dangerous, especially if that individual is Black.[5]

Most important is why the ‘study’ which prompted the latest series of ‘news stories’ about AIDs being carried by a “single individual” from Haiti to the US has hit the headlines now? The study was first presented back in March, 2007 by Michael Worobey[6], a study that has been questioned by some very eminent scientists as being based on extremely flimsy evidence and poorly conducted research.[7]

But aside from this, the idea that a single individual and specifically a Haitian can be identified as the source, is not only ludicrous and irrational, it’s also nothong more than pure speculation on Worobey’s part.

Given the appalling history of how Haitians with AIDS have been treated in the US (let alone how Haiti has been mistreated and exploited for generations by the US and which it continues to do), the reaction from the Haitian community in the US has been one of outrage and rightly so.[8]

But judging by the number of stories (eg, ‘Following the genetic footprints of the virus’ The Boston Globe, ‘HIV Origins: Virus Arrived in United States from Haiti in 1969’) with the theme ‘one man from Haiti who started the AIDS epidemic in the US’ (I’ve counted at least a dozen and all in the MSM including the BBC ‘Key HIV strain ‘came from Haiti’’ By Neil Bowdler Science reporter, BBC News ), the damage has already been done.

The BBC story goes further, asserting that,

‘The strain of the HIV virus which predominates in the United States and Europe has been traced back to Haiti by an international team of scientists.’

No mention at all of critiques of the study, it’s a done deal as far as the BBC is concerned.

The MSM have some explaining to do as to why they collectively latched onto a discredited story but dealt with it as if it was the explanation and many months after it first appeared.

What it does reveal is the intrinsic racism that infects the mainstream media, what else explains the unearthing and use of a discredited study many months old? Could it be that this story made the headlines because at exactly same time the revelations surrounding the Sri Lankan UN contingent accused of sexually abusing children in Haiti were making the news?[9]

Meanwhile, the real story of what’s going on in Haiti gets virtually no coverage at all, but that’s another story.


1. See The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDs’ by Edward Hooper. (Bloody expensive at $89, even second-hand!)

2. See ‘The Origins of HIV and the first cases of AIDS

3. See ‘The burden of proof and the origin of acquired immune deficiency syndrome

4. ibid

5. See ‘HIV’s path out of Africa: Haiti, the US then the world

6. See ‘Sri Lankan peacekeepers in Haiti sex scandal

7. See for example, Empire State Medical Association Denounces Incomplete Research Claims made by Dr. Gilbert and Dr. Worobey on “HIV Coming from Haiti”’ and Dr. Paul Farmer, Harvard University, AIDS and Accusations: Haiti and the Geography of Blame

8. ‘These claims, which were often founded on dubious evidence, fuelled pre-existing racism in the US and many Haitians suffered severe discrimination and stigmatisation as a result. A large number of Haitian immigrants living in the US lost their jobs and were evicted from their homes as Haitians were added to homosexuals, haemophiliacs and heroin users to make the ‘Four-H Club’ of groups at high risk of AIDS.’

9. See Over 101 Sri Lankan peacekeepers in Haiti charged with sexually and abusing Haitian population, including minor children’, November 3, 200

And it now seems that some Haitians are talking of suing over the allegations,

Haitians May Sue Over HIV Research Claim’ By Philomena Robertson

“Hardbeatnews, BROOKLYN, NY, Fri. Nov. 9, 2007: Haitian Americans, outraged by recent research claiming that Haitians were responsible for the transfer of HIV from Africa to the Caribbean and the US, are looking into the possibility of legal action, HBN has learnt.

“Head of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, Marguerite Laurent, told HBN Thursday that the organization is “examining all our options and studying what the doctors have reported to determine whether there is legal basis for asking for retraction or damages.”

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