IT NOW SEEMS CERTAIN THAT HIV can be traced back to retroviruses found in certain species of African apes and monkeys. But why did these simian viruses suddenly transfer to the human species? Those who believe in a natural movement across the species barrier would be hard-pressed to explain why this transfer did not occur until the late twentieth century. Do we need to look elsewhere for the true source of HIV and AIDS?
Dust jackets from the various editions of the book.
Why is Aids an epidemic? Edward Hooper spent years looking for the source, and his book has sparked controversy over claims of human error in the vaccination programmes
Published in The Guardian, Wednesday 5 April 2000
In June 1981, two unusual events occurred in very different parts of the world. In Los Angeles, five gay men fell sick with rare symptoms suggestive of immunological problems, which prompted two local doctors to write a paper for the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Meanwhile, in Mugana, northern Tanzania, a German missionary doctor saw five women from the Ugandan border region, all suffering from untreatable anaerobic ulcers of the groin and anus. Some new pathogen was abroad, and these doctors were among the first to recognise that fact.
[Article about The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS]
Contaminated polio vaccines started AIDS in Africa in the ’50s. A National Enquirer headline? No. It’s the premise of a big new book fueling an old controversy among researchers.
Could a human error in 1950s medical research be the cause of the massive global catastrophe of AIDS?
POZ Magazine, March 2000
A highly controversial book positing just such a theory has been kicking up dust in the AIDS research world since its release last September. The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS (Little, Brown and Company/Boston), written by British medical researcher and former BBC correspondent Edward Hooper, proposes that HIV emerged from a contaminated batch of experimental oral polio vaccine (OPV) administered to Africans in the late 1950s.
Review of The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and Aids by Edward Hooper.
London Review of Books, Vol 22, No 5, 2 March 2000
More than a thousand pages long and the fruit of a decade’s work, The River amounts to something more than the attempt to track down the source of Aids. It is, in fact, three books rolled into one. The investigation advertised by the title is, of course, of the highest significance. It was in 1981 that attention was first drawn to the condition, as evidence mounted that gays in New York and California were falling victim to illnesses like pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) and Kaposi’s sarcoma, rarely seen in otherwise healthy young people. A number of theories were proposed as to its origins, some unscientific (‘the wrath of God’), and others (homosexuality or Haitians) generally discredited once the human immunodeficiency virus had been isolated.
“Was polio vaccine the cause of AIDS?”
(Review of The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDS) by Matt Ridley
Daily Telegraph (UK), 1 March 2000
Bill Hamilton, the brilliant Oxford zoologist who died last week, caught his fatal disease while in the Congo. He was there in search of chimpanzee stools with which to test a radical theory about the origin of the AIDS virus. Saddened by his death, I spent the weekend reading the book that had convinced him of this theory. It has shaken me to the core.
Review of Hooper, E. 1999. The River: a Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS
Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, UMDNJ
Times Higher Educational Supplement, 18 February 2000
Many Africans and African-Americans believe that HIV and AIDS were either the direct invention of the white man–cooked up, for example, in the biological warfare labs in Beltsville, MD–or somehow preferentially directed at them by wicked, white scientists. A new book by Edward Hooper suggests that something like this may actually have happened, that the AIDS epidemic may have started when HIV was accidentally introduced into hundreds and perhaps thousands of Africans during vaccinations of over one million people, mostly children, against polio in 1958 and 1959 in Rwanda-Burundi and selected places in the Congo.
Statement to the press about the origin-of-AIDS debate by Edward Hooper, author of The River
Sunday, February 6, 2000 2:45 PM
Origin of AIDS – An Alternative Scenario
I am increasingly concerned by some of the statements made, and articles written, about Dr Bette Korber’s presentation on the origin of AIDS made at the Seventh Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Some reports of Korber’s hypothesis, and the alternative hypothesis of iatrogenic (physician-caused) introduction via an experimental oral polio vaccine (OPV), have been accurate and commendably balanced; others less so.
Review of The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDS
New Statesman, 31 January 2000
Edward Hooper, The River: a journey back to the source of HIV and AIDS, London and New York, Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1999, xxiii + 1070 pp., including index and appendices.
It has recently come to light that in Gateshead in the mid-1950s about 250,000 children were chosen for a polio vaccine trial. Parents were given minimal information before the children were called for shots of the oral vaccine. It is now clear that New Variant CJD has nothing to do with eating beef. It is the result of this trial. A few batches of the vaccine, cultured on bovine tissue, were contaminated with the virus which produces NVCJD.
Eight years ago Tom Curtis reported that AIDS could have been spread by an experimental polio vaccine grown on monkey kidneys. Scientists sniffed. Journalists scoffed. A polio hero sued. The story died. Now, a new book says the theory wasn’t so stupid after all.
by Brad Tyer, Houston Press, 20-26 January 2000