Saturday, November 26, 2016

Soviet 1983 disinformation campaign on AIDS may have set up homophobia in Africa today

A Washington Post story today by Adam Taylor describes the “disinformation” campaign by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, which included a story in July of 1983 (nine months before the HIV HTLV-3 discovery was announced) that AIDS was a manmade disease originating in the Pentagon.   The New York Native (Charles Ortleb’s paper) had augmented these claims with bizarre theories about an arbovirus, AFSV (African Swine Fever), and about a facility at Plum Island on Long Island. 

A possible result is a survey on 2005 showing about half of Africans believe that AIDS is an American invention, which could help explain rabidly anti-gay attitudes (and their easy exploitation by politicians) in Africa.

An arbovirus would have made the disease politically even more dangerous, as insects could have spread the disease to other communities (maybe that was part of the thinking behind the draconian anti-gay law proposed in Texas in 1983).  Theoretically, the same claims could be made about Zika today.

New trials of a moderately successful HIV vaccine will start in South Africa soon (story ).  This may be related to recent advances in Australia.  

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