Thursday, February 5, 2009

Needles, Hearts of Darkness, and Conspiracy, an AIDS and HIV awareness site, lists a few more theories that expand upon the theories we learned in class, including the Hunter theory and the Oral Polio Vaccine theory. The Contaminated Needle Theory goes along with the Hunter theory, implying that hunters in Africa may have contracted the disease from primates. This theory states that during the 1950s, disposable plastic syringes were used for medicinal purposes, but the poor African healthcare system could not afford to actually dispose the syringes, meaning that the same needles were used on several patients. This allowed for the disease to mutate and multiply at great efficiency. The Colonialism or “Heart of Darkness” Theory also expands on the Hunter theory, but it also attempts to explain how the disease emerged as an epidemic. During the early 20th century (about the same time HIV may have became a human disease), Africans were forced into labor camps, where conditions were very poor, increasing the susceptibility to the disease. Within these camps, African laborers were exposed to possibly infected primates (a food source), unsterile needles, and prostitutes, who were employed to keep the laborers content. With all of these factors, along with the long incubation period of HIV and AIDS, the disease would be hard to identify because of all the other diseases present. The Conspiracy Theory, backed by surveys done in the US, states that HIV was a result of biological warfare testing, with intentions to create a weapon that would wipe out large numbers of African Americans and homosexuals. This “Special Cancer Virus Program,” possibly in conjunction with the CIA, according to these theorists, may have spread the virus via smallpox inoculations or Hepatitis B vaccine tests. This theory is not well-supported by any evidence and is based on speculation.

Details can be found here:

1 comment:

John Latto said...

In a curious, and sad, note the Oral Polio Vaccine (or OPV) hypothesis was investigated by Bill Hamilton, one of the greatest evolutionary theorists of our time.

Hamilton even went to Africa to investigate the hypothesis
by assessing natural levels of SIV in primates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Whilst there he contracted malaria, was rushed home, and spent six weeks in hospital before dying from a cerebral hemorrhage in the year 2000.

Hamilton's influence on modern biology cannot be overstated. It was the fact that he took the OPV hypothesis so seriously that compelled me to look into it further. As I said in class, I don't believe this was the origin but it quite easily COULD have been.