Welcome to the New AIDS Origins Site

Welcome to the new AIDS Origins site: July 4th, 2013.

Because it is still relevant, I have put a link at the end of this post to my original "Welcome to AIDS Origins" message from 2006, written a couple of years after the site first went live.

Lindi Chimp
First of all, let me sincerely thank the Webmaster for reorganising this site. This has taken a lot of work, all of which has been done in his own time, and without any financial recompense. The reorganisation has necessitated the site being down for a short time, and we apologise to those readers who may have been inconvenienced.

The benefits of the new system include a new design, a simplified and far more accessible layout of articles, a better search mechanism within the site, and (for the first time) a direct link to the full-length (91 minute) YouTube version of the documentary film "The Origins of AIDS", which was originally released in 2003.

Free subscription to mailings from the site continues, just by signing up with your name and email address. If you like what you find here, please pass it on and tell your friends.

So, seven further years have passed, and with the advent of this new site I think it is time for me to add a few words about my own position, in response to questions that I have been asked hundreds of times by readers of this site. At the same time certain details need to remain confidential for now, meaning that I shall not be giving too much away about future plans, for instance.

More supportive of OPV/AIDS than of the bushmeat hypothesis. (A revised response to the recent Faria paper in Science.)

[A recent communication from one of the co-authors of the Faria paper has provided new information, which requires an updated response from myself. Surprisingly, this information reveals even more evidence in favour of the OPV theory. Ed Hooper, November 11th, 2014.]

Several people have recently asked (either via the AIDSorigins site or via on-line message boards) for my opinions on the latest article about dating the beginning of the AIDS epidemic to Leopoldville/KInshasa in 1920.

Bedtime Story

The following has been contributed by a friend, after reading the latest claims by the bushmeat people in the paper by Faria et al. I hope you like it. I think it provides a fresh and rather astute asessment of what is going on.

Ed Hooper, 3 November 2014

The recent Faria paper in Science: More flimsy AIDS origins speculations

Several people have recently asked (either via the AIDSorigins site or via on-line message boards) for my opinions on the latest article about dating the beginning of the AIDS epidemic to Leopoldville/KInshasa in 1920.

The article is called "The early spread and epidemic ignition of HIV-1 in human populations", and though released earlier on-line, it was formally published in the October 5th, 2014 issue of Science; [2014; 346; 56-61]. Most of the article is consistent with the rest of the work by its authors: the mooted early history of HIV-1 is nothing more or less than computer-generated guesswork.

But the authors have had a major rethink about one of the previous problem areas in their work, and one crucial aspect of their analysis, though they do not advertise it, now aligns precisely with what I have been proposing for several years. In fact, it serves as another powerful confirmation of the OPV hypothesis. All this is explained in more detail in the notes below.

Koprowski Passes On, But Others Repeat the Same Old Untruths About How AIDS Began

There has been a remarkably low-key response by the medical community to the passing of Dr Hilary Koprowski. Five days have passed, and the only reports that I have seen to date are the Associated Press report already mentioned (which has been used by the New York Times, the Huffington Post and others), and an article by Stacey Burling in the Philadelphia Inquirer, entitled "Hilary Koprowski, Polio Vaccine Pioneer, Dead at 96".

Koprowski lived in a well-to-do suburb on the outskirts of Philadelphia for most of his final 56 years, so this is effectively his home-town newspaper.

More Mumbo Jumbo from the Wrongo Congo

Review of Spillover, by David Quammen; [The Bodley Head; 2012]

Gentle reader, beware! Do not believe all that you read in this book.

Some Glimmer of Light, Perhaps, At The End Of The Tunnel?

Two new books and a flurry of new articles have recently appeared about the "origins of AIDS", plus a third conference on the subject has been staged.....

Some Glimmer of Light, Perhaps, At The End Of The Tunnel?

I shall use this blog to address five new developments in the origins of AIDS debate.

The first three, sadly, are the same old same old, even if they sometimes reveal just how desperate some of the "1908 Cameroonian Bushmeat" group have become. But the last two may contain some positive developments.

Review of The Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin

Review of The Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin [C.U.P. 2011]

"The Origins of AIDS" by Jacques Pepin [Cambridge University Press], which came out in October 2011, has received a fair amount of attention in the press, almost all of which has been complimentary. I have a rather different take on the book.

The Origins of the AIDS Pandemic

A Quick Guide to The Principal Theories and the Alleged Refutations

PREAMBLE: The oral polio vaccine (OPV) theory of origin of AIDS proposes that an experimental OPV made in a unique manner was administered to nearly one million Africans in the 1957-1960 period, leading to the infection of perhaps 10 to 500 people from the former Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi with the pandemic strain of HIV-1, thus initiating the AIDS pandemic. (UNAIDS has proposed that by 2010 over 80 million people had been infected with HIV-1, of whom some 46 million had died from AIDS. Even if some statisticians claim that the true figures are nearer to two thirds of these, AIDS still represents the most disastrous infectious disease epidemic that our species has ever experienced.)

Review of Tinderbox by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin

Review of Tinderbox by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin [Penguin USA; 2012]

The Air-Brushing of History

Two new books about the origins of AIDS tell it like it wasn't

In recent months (October 2011 and March 2012) two new books about the origins of AIDS have been released: The Origins of AIDS by Jacques Pepin, and Tinderbox by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin. Both books have enjoyed generally positive reviews in the scientific and lay press.

Both volumes start off with the assumption that the oral polio vaccine (OPV) theory of AIDS origin has been disproved and that the bushmeat origin theory is now proven.

The Bushmeat Gang (The Gang That Couldn't Tell The Time!)

[This is a response to Worobey et al.: "Island Biogeography Reveals the Deep History of SIV" (Science; 2010; 329; 1487), and to the related article by Donald G. McNeil Jr. in the New York Times, "Precursor to HIV was in Monkeys for Milenniums" (NY Times; September 16, 2010).]

The Donald McNeil article in the New York Times invited comments from the public, and in the following 24 hours 101 comments were logged before the Comments section on this topic on the Times web-site was closed.

The Death of an American Hero

Walter A. Nelson-Rees, 1929-2009

Once again I have the sad task of having to report the death of a fine scientist, and a good man. Below I include a link to the excellent obituary notice that was sent me by Walter's partner of the last fifty years, Jim Coran, which reveals many unexpected and little-known details about Walter's life and scientific career.

Walter A. Nelson-Rees Obituary

In addition, I would like to add some words of my own.

Walter A. Nelson-Rees Obituary

Walter Anthony Rees y Nelson, (Niki) the second of two boys, was born in Havana, Cuba on January 11, 1929. His father was German, his mother a native Cuban of Danish and English origin was a U.S. citizen. He attended primary school in Havana until the age of nine. In 1938 he, together with his brother and mother, were sent to Karlsruhe, Germany to live on his father’s income there. He attended two boarding schools in Baden from 1939 until 1944 and three schools in and near Karlsruhe from 1944 to 1945, the years coinciding with World War II.

When intellectual dishonesty becomes a crime: Nature and its cynical promotion of bad science.

Early in October 2008 an article proposing a new, earlier year of origin for HIV-1, the pandemic AIDS virus, was published in Nature. For several reasons I, and scientists whom I know, considered this article a travesty, and one that spoke volumes about the conduct of Science in the 21st Century.

The principal author of the article, "Direct evidence of extensive diversity of HIV-1 in Kinshasa by 1960", was Michael Worobey, an ambitious young Canadian scientist who had recently been appointed - while still in his early thirties - to head the laboratory of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, in Tucson.

Worobey's article dealt with huge mathematical calculations done on "super-computers". In reality, however, it was a mish-mash of arguments about the likely date of the beginnings of the AIDS pandemic, which concluded that the first example of HIV-1 must have existed in humans in or around 1908. Unfortunately, Worobey's calculations were based on a scientific model (the "phylogenetic clock", or "molecular clock") that is entirely bogus when applied to a lentiretrovirus such as HIV-1. The results he came up with are therefore equally spurious.


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