Normally I slap media outlets because of wild homophobia and right-wing misinformation. This week, though, I ran across a Canadian newspaper which bills itself as “Canada’s new socially progressive and cross-cultural national newspaper.” While it’s a nice change to read stories raising awareness about homophobia and transgender violence, I have to bring up this publication up as proof that nonsensical accusations and fanaticism can come from any part of the political spectrum.
The Canadian National is prominently featuring an article that calls AIDS the result of a CIA eugenics conspiracy. The author, Alan Cantwell, says that the government designed HIV and purposefully introduced it into the gay community under the guise of hepatitis B vaccinations in the late 1970s:
There is no doubt that AIDS erupted in the U.S. shortly after government-sponsored hepatitis B vaccine experiments (1978-1981) using gay men as guinea pigs. [...]
Are we to believe that [...] AIDS in America resulted simply from two viruses jumping species in the African jungle? Or is the origin of HIV and AIDS—and the KS virus—related to secret medical research and covert human testing [...]?
I wasn’t sure how to go about showing this is utter nonsense, mind you, but thankfully Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has done that for me:
The first known case of AIDS was found in a 1959 blood sample drawn from an unknown man in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo (today’s Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire). This was long before the hepatitis B vaccine experiments [...]
Jim debunks some of the article’s other claims as well, but it doesn’t take much skepticism to understand that the knowledge and technology to design a human virus as complex as HIV simply didn’t exist in the 1970s.
So, as unjust as the U.S. government’s reaction to the AIDS epidemic in the gay community was throughout the 1980s, I don’t believe it was a CIA conspiracy. The lack of a decent and reasonably priced mojito in the greater Montréal area, on the other hand…