Needles not sex drove African AIDS pandemicThe re-use of dirty needles in healthcare - not promiscuity - was the main cause of the AIDS pandemic now devastating Africa, according to a controversial new analysis. It challenges the assumption, dating from 1988, that unsafe heterosexual sex accounted for 90 per cent of HIV transmissions in Africa. "We've gathered all the literature we can on AIDS in Africa and the best we can estimate, for sexual transmission, is a quarter to a third," says David Gisselquist, an independent anthropologist from Hershey, Pennsylvania, who led the new study. Dirty needles accounted for almost half of all cases, the re-analysis of research concludes. The work is published as a three-paper set in the International Journal of STD & AIDS... Gisselquist says that with their mindsets fixed on the sexual explanation, researchers have ignored obvious discrepancies. He says the data contradict the idea that Africans are unusually promiscuous, or engage more readily than anyone else in unsafe sex.
by Andy Coghlan
20 February 2003
NewScientistThe Smoking Gun of AIDS[F]ield virologist Preston Marx... argues that injection campaigns in the last century that were meant to treat infections also encouraged strains of SIV--the simian immunodeficiency virus--to mutate from a bug easily squashed by the human immune system to today's epidemic HIV strains... If pockets of HIV existed in isolated African villages for centuries, he wondered, why hadn't the virus been brought to America by the slave trade, where there was a massive movement of people out of supposed HIV hot spots? If, on the other hand, the transfer of SIV to humans is so rare that it only happened in the last century, Marx found it very unlikely that this would have occurred successfully more than once.
by Solana Pyne
Vol. 23 No. 1
January 2002New Book Challenges Theories of AIDS OriginsMonkey cells were routinely used to make polio vaccines then and now. But Hooper theorizes that chimpanzees were also used to prepare the experimental polio vaccine. As circumstantial evidence, he points to a large colony of chimpanzees at the Lindi River in central Congo, where the primates were caught for research... Only a small percentage of chimpanzees are believed to carry the H.I.V.-1 ancestor virus. But if chimpanzee tissues sent to a laboratory in Philadelphia or Belgium were infected, they might have found their way into one or more batches of experimental polio vaccine, particularly the strain known as CHAT, prepared at the Wistar Institute. In such an event, H.I.V.'s simian ancestor might have grown in the batches of polio vaccine used in experimental trials only. When the vaccine was squirted into human mouths, the simian virus could have passed through a sore or ulcer and entered the bloodstream, subsequently to evolve into H.I.V.-1. From there it would have been transmitted through sexual or blood-to-blood contact. Any contamination would have been accidental, because specific tests could not have been performed before 1985, when a simian counterpart of H.I.V. was first isolated.
by Lawrence K. Altman, M.D.
November 30, 1999