Wednesday, November 23, 2005

IS AIDS A MAN-MADE VIRUS?

When we first started hearing about AIDS in school, I was probably 12 or 13. At the time, the rumor was that AIDS was something that was picked up from some guy having sexual relations with a monkey or two in Africa. That whole story never really made much sense to me. Apparantly, now after almost 25 years of research, others are coming to same conclusions. Is AIDS really just a natuarally occuring virus that mutated and all of the sudden could be transferred human-to-human? If so, then why did the virus spread first in Manhatten, and not Africa? Could it be that AIDS is something else entirely?
The disease was first uncovered in homosexual men from Manhattan. "Gay cancer," in the form of Kaposi's sarcoma skin tumors, was the most striking telltale sign; and drugs, promiscuity, and anal sex were all thought to play a role in the unprecedented suppression of the immune system. It was soon obvious that the disease was not limited to gays: the mysterious agent was in the national blood supply, and an epidemic of AIDS was also uncovered in Central Africa.

In April 1984 Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced his discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS. Subsequently, Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris filed a lawsuit claiming he had first discovered the AIDS virus at Pasteur, and that Gallo had stolen the French virus after it was sent to his lab for study.
Twenty-five years later, the origin of AIDS still remains a mystery. The disease is widely believed to have originated in Africa when a primate (monkey) virus "jumped species" to first infect Black Africans. However, it is important to note that this belief is theory, not proven fact.

Montagnier has wisely cautioned that it is extremely important to distinguish between the ancestral origin of HIV and the actual beginning of the AIDS epidemic. The animal virus ancestor of HIV may indeed be centuries old, but it is obvious that the epidemic itself is new.

The epidemic did not begin in Africa. The first AIDS cases were uncovered in Manhattan in 1979. At that time there were no reported African cases. In fact, the AIDS epidemic in Africa did not begin until the autumn of 1982 at the earliest.