Dominion of New York


December 1, 2011

The Origins of HIV, Let’s Review

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Written by: Kelly Virella


iven that today is World AIDS Day, you’d think that bigots would take a break from their race-baiting and gay-hating to pause and reflect on the slaughter of 25 million people, including those of all races and sexual orientations. But they’re bigots, so while you’re raising awareness, they’re tweeting stuff like this:

They’ll try to get you thinking that black people created AIDS by sexing chimps.

Since you will encounter these people today, here are some weapons you can use to slay their ignorance.

First, tell them to read the Village Voice’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize Winning series on AIDS in Africa (If you haven’t read it, stop what you are doing immediately and begin. ) Part 4: The Virus, Past and Future does a remarkable job of laying out the prevailing theories of HIV’s genesis in Africa and explaining what Africans think of the theories:

  1. The Hunter Theory: The virus started in chimpanzees and spread to Africans when they were hunting and dressing the animal, inadvertently exposing the humans’ cuts and wounds to the blood of infected chimps.
  2. The Oral Polio Vaccine Theory: In the 1950s, an oral polio vaccine was tested in central and east Africa. Some believe it was cultivated in the kidneys of chimps infected with the simian version of HIV, SIVcmz.
  3. Contaminated Needles: Healthcare professionals in Africa often reused needles, while administering vaccines or other medicines.
  4. Colonialism: European land grab and economic policies drove people into cities in search of work and laid the groundwork for industrial scale prostitution.
If a bigot doesn’t have time for the full series, direct them to this website,, which summarizes these theories and more.

Another great resource is this video, The Origin of AIDS, which explores The Oral Polio Vaccine Theory.

If you’re dealing with a religious bigot today, one of those who thinks that God created AIDS to destroy gays, you could show them this.

The point is, be prepared. Don’t let bigots undermine this opportunity for humanity to pull together to stop AIDS.

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, left to right. Photo courtesy of Flickr/Azipaybarah