New York Times Letter (1)

Challenging a Theory
To the Editor:

The Doctor’s World column “New Book Challenges Theories of AIDS Origin” on Nov. 30 describes the hypothesis that H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, was initially transmitted to humans during the first large-scale trials of oral polio vaccine in what was then the Belgian Congo. Although we are not named in the article, it is common knowledge in the scientific community that we conducted those trials. The hypothesis is based on the suggestion in a recently published book that we used chimpanzee cells to prepare the vaccine, and that these cells were, unknown to us, contaminated with a precursor of the human AIDS virus.

Continue reading “New York Times Letter (1)”

New York Times Letter (2)

To the Editor:

The Doctor’s World column on AIDS origins makes valid points in the argument that Edward Hooper’s theory of vaccine contamination should be explored further. Those scientists who feel the legitimization of Hooper’s theory would tarnish public confidence in the safety of vaccines are not only shortsighted, but naïve.

Anyone who has followed the AIDS epidemic has pondered either in public or private numerous rumors and theories, from tainted vaccines to government conspiracies. With no cure in sight, more research into the origins of this epidemic not only has the potential to win tangible scientific results but also the trust of millions who often feel they are only receiving information that has been deemed palatable to the public.


Debate Rages Anew Over Origin of AIDS

Copyright 1999 IPS-Inter Press Service/Global Information Network

IPS-Inter Press Service

The long-held perception that the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) began spontaneously in Africa has been challenged by a British writer, sparking renewed debate over the origins of the disease.

In his recent book, “The River: A Journey Back To The Source Of HIV And AIDS”, Edward Hooper puts forth the provocative theory that AIDS actually was introduced to the African continent by Western medicine. Continue reading “Debate Rages Anew Over Origin of AIDS”

New York Times Review

New Book Challenges Theories of AIDS Origins
[Review of The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS ]

New York Times, Tuesday 30 November 1999, pp. D1, D6.

Is AIDS a disaster inadvertently brought on by humans that arose from early testing of a polio vaccine in Africa in the 1950’s?

This provocative theory seemed far-fetched when it first came to public attention in an article in Rolling Stone in 1992. Most AIDS experts dismissed it after a scientific committee reviewed the theory and deemed the probability very low. Continue reading “New York Times Review”

Economist Review

Did a vaccine cause AIDS?

By Edward Hooper. Little, Brown; 1,104 pages; $34. Allen Lane; £25

A frozen sample in a Philadelphia lab could illuminate the origin of AIDS

Economist, 13 November 1999, pp. 3-4.

IT IS a shame that the The River is so long, because many readers will give up before they have sieved out the extraordinary things it has to say about the origins of AIDS and the unintended consequences of medical testing. Half-buried in its more than 1,100 pages are two important questions. One is why, in different places in Africa, and apparently within the space of a couple of decades, three separate viruses emerged which each produce the symptoms of AIDS. The second question is whether an American research institute really is as reluctant as Edward Hooper implies to organise tests that might provide vital missing evidence. Continue reading “Economist Review”

Heart of Darkness Revisited

‘Every one of all known HIV-1 cases in Africa before 1981 came from places within 160km of those CHAT vaccination sites.’ Could the AIDS pandemic have been sparked off by polio researchers in Belgium’s former African colonies? ANDREW DONALDSON reports on a new book that claims to have found the source of HIV.

[Commentary on The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDS]

South Africa Sunday Times, 14 November 1999

FEBRUARY 1959 and the wind of change is blowing through Africa. Two doctors, an American and a Belgian, find themselves in Leopoldville soon after the first pro-independence riots in the capital of the then Belgian Congo.

Continue reading “Heart of Darkness Revisited”

Blame Me

Were chimps the source of HIV? Charles Gilks on Edward Hooper’s controversial book

The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDS by Edward Hooper, Little Brown, £25/$35, ISBN 0316372617

New Scientist, 13 November 1999, pages 54-55.

FACED with tragedy and terror, it is very human to ask why? HIV/AIDS is undoubtedly the most terrifying of all emerging human diseases. More than 35 million people are infected or sick, around 16 million have already died and worldwide at least 6000 people become infected every day. The strength of Edward Hooper’s obsession with the question matches the scale of the pandemic. How did it start? Is anyone to blame? Could it happen again?

Continue reading “Blame Me”

Is AIDS Man-Made?

A review by Robin A. Weiss*

The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS

by Edward Hooper

Little, Brown, New York, 1999. 1104 pp. $35. ISBN 0-316-37261-7. Penguin, London, 1999. 1104 pp. £25. ISBN 0-7139-9335-9.

Science, 12 November 1999; Volume 286, pp. 1305-1306

Thanks to immunization, polio like smallpox may soon be eradicated. But did the trials of early polio vaccines trigger AIDS? The central thesis of Edward Hooper’s new book, The River, is that they did. Hooper argues that both AIDS viruses, HIV-1 and HIV-2, first infected humans via contaminated oral poliovirus vaccines (OPV). He claims these vaccines were grown in kidney cell cultures derived in the 1950s from chimpanzees and sooty mangabeys, respectively, that were infected with simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs). Although this notion has been explored before, no one previously has researched the history of polio vaccine trials and early AIDS cases so exhaustively. Hooper builds up layer upon layer of circumstantial evidence and plausible conjecture, until he declares: “The reader must make up his mind or her mind. I have made up mine.” Yet after having read his 858 pages of text and 175 pages of notes and references, I remain undecided on the origins of HIV.

Continue reading “Is AIDS Man-Made?”

Debate Over the Origin of AIDS

[Commentary on The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS]

Scientists from the Wistar Institute conducted polio-vaccine tests in the Congo region in the late 1950s. That, a British journalist believes, is when the chimpanzee virus was introduced in humans. The scientists say that’s not true.

By Huntly Collins

Philadelphia Inquirer, Monday 8 November 1999

After years of speculation, scientists now agree that the AIDS pandemic began when an AIDS-like virus from a chimpanzee, probably in west-central Africa, jumped species and infected a human being sometime around the middle of this century.

Continue reading “Debate Over the Origin of AIDS”

U.S. Researchers Stung by Claims of AIDS Origin

(News report re The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS)

By David Morgan, Monday, November 8, 1999

PHILADELPHIA, Nov 8 (Reuters) – An eminent U.S. medical research centre will release lab specimens from a 1950s polio vaccine project in Africa in hopes of dispelling claims that its scientists inadvertently caused the AIDS epidemic, officials said on Monday.

Continue reading “U.S. Researchers Stung by Claims of AIDS Origin”