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Media’s specious coverage of Worobey’s farfetched conjectures on Haiti and AIDs/HIV

3 November 2007


POSSIBLE MEDIA Bias may be claimed with respect to recent wide “news” dissemination of the Worobey/Gilbert controversial claims on Haiti and the origin of HIV in the U.S. because mostly all said articles FAILED to note AS CUSTOMARY in such cases that the study is on record as being disputed by other doctors working in the field.


Below is an excerpt of a report discussing the origin of HIV and the first cases of AIDs. The article basically outlines the official line on how Africa gave the world HIV/AIDs. Nonetheless, it’s relevant, as far as we’re concerned, only because it notes another doctor challenged and contested the Worobey claims, even perhaps, at the time the study was presented.

The subject article notes that a Haitian delegate, contested the findings, at the March 2007 CROI conference, where apparently Worobey perhaps first presented his study to a wide audience. There may be others who also contested his conclusions at that point, but it seems clear, that this particular objection was certainly made BEFORE the week of October 25-31, 2007 when the mainstream media’s took hold of the conclusion of the study as “news” on Haiti!!!

It may be instructive to find information on the Haitian delegate at the March 2007 CROI conference, and get a copy, for our review and circulation, of this challenge and any others issued before this (primarily on October 29/30, 2007) breaking “news” came out. ( See excerpt of relevant article below entitled “Why is Haiti Significant?”

All the mainstream news outlets who featured this as “breaking news” on Oct. 29 and October 30, 2007, simply failed to mention how farfetched Worobey hypothesis is or that there was, documented and other noted objections (i.e. William D. Hamilton of Oxford University, Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard, et al) to these rehashed conjectures. and

The cavalier attitude displayed by the media, with such an inflammatory pronouncement on Haiti and Haitians, is questionable.

Worobey’s farfetched conclusion, based on the speculation, that one “unmarried Haitian immigrant” amongst the over 5,000 to 10,000 Haitians, who travelled as teachers, doctors, agronomists, administrators, et al., to the Congo and other parts of Africa, (and definitely not in the “high risk” categories of folks – ie. people engaged in survival or commercial sex work, injection drug use, multiple unprotected sexual encounters with HIV-infected persons, etc.) and who were not welcomed back to Haiti by Duvalier and who mostly all settled elsewhere later on, not Haiti.

But, we are to take as “serious science” that one amongst this group of Haitians, one who lived in the Congo, a Congo then teeming with European white settlers from every walk of life including embassy workers, military, charitable workers, and/or colonial mercenaries there in the Congo chopping off the hands of the local mine workers, in their Euro/US greed for the Congo’s diamonds, precious gems and resources (See, UN complicity in assassination of Patrice Lumumba: Interview with Ludo De Witte-Assassination of Patrice Lumumba, KPFA, Africa Turner, Walter Turner, Nov. 27, 2006 );

we are to believe that, of all the hundreds of thousands of Europeans in Africa in this 1960s time period, one single Haitian, made it back to Haiti from the Congo, where said Haitian had been unlucky enough, AMONGST ALL ON EARTH to have been the only one to contract said “African” virus.

Then what?

Then, despite Duvalier’s tonton macoutes and US-supported Cold War terror, oppression against Haiti’s masses and the then intellectual classes denouncing Duvalier’s dictatorship; then, sick and all, said unlucky-of-all-sentient-beings-on-planet-earth-Haitian, somehow (conveniently?) transmuted – while in Haiti? Of course! – the disease picked up in the Congo into what? Oh yeah, the “key strain.”

That is, transmuted -in his body, all by himself maybe? – the “African virus” into the appropriate version of subtype B of HIV. (See, Key HIV strain ‘came from Haiti’ | BBC News

Once this dastardly biological act? miracle? was done, said Haitian next traveled to the U.S. (by plane?, boat? – there were no real Haitian boat people back then, spaceship then?) where this Haitian immigrant INFECTED the U.S. population with the HIV virus, and by extension, the world!!!

What explains the unquestioned ringing of the bell, as if this is legitimate BREAKING NEWS that was promulgated (Oct. 30th) so certainly, by the power-media? Other than the ugliness of racism, hate, fear and ignorance?

If anyone has any information on the Haitian delegate at the March 2007 CROI conference or have a copy of the delegates report/statement, please let us know.

Men anpil chay pa lou

Ezili Danto, Oct. 31, 2007 (revised Nov. 1, 2007)

****** “Why is Haiti significant?

The AIDS epidemic in Haiti first came to light in the early 1980s, at around the same time that cases in the USA were being uncovered. Following the discovery of a number of Haitians with Kaposi’s Sarcoma and other AIDS-related conditions, medical journals and books began to claim that AIDS had come from Haiti, and that Haitians were responsible for the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

These claims, which were often founded on dubious evidence, fuelled pre-existing racism in the US and many Haitians suffered severe discrimination and stigmatisation as a result. A large number of Haitian immigrants living in the US lost their jobs and were evicted from their homes as Haitians were added to homosexuals, haemophiliacs and heroin users to make the ‘Four-H Club’ of groups at high risk of AIDS.14

The emotionally- charged culture of blame and prejudice that surrounded HIV and AIDS in the early years meant that it soon became politically difficult to present epidemiological findings in a neutral and objective way. For many years the link between Haiti and the US epidemic was therefore dropped as a subject.

In March 2007 however, it returned to the public eye at the Fourteenth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Los Angeles.

A group of international scientists presented data based on complex genetic analysis of 122 early samples of HIV-1, group M, subtype B (the most common strain found in the USA and in Haiti) showing that the strain had probably been brought to Haiti from Africa by a single person in around 1966; a time when many Haitians would have been returning from working in the Congo.15

Genetic analysis then showed that subtype B spread slowly from person to person on the island, before being transferred to the US, again probably by a single individual, at some point between 1969 and 1972. A paper published in October 2007 by Worobey and colleagues gave a 99.7% certainty that HIV subtype B originated in Haiti before passing to the US.16

It is possible that HIV had entered the US several times before subtype B took a firm hold (which would explain the infection of the St. Louis teenager in the early to mid-1960s), but it was the late 1960s / early 1970s transfer that is believed to be responsible for the widespread epidemic seen in the US today.

Once the virus had established itself in the gay community, in would have spread fairly rapidly (anal intercourse carries a very high transmission risk), with transmission occurring within and between the US and Haiti, and internationally, until the original route taken by the virus was largely obscured.

Dr Michael Worobey, lead researcher in the study, claimed that his data was not intended to place any blame on Haiti, or on Central Africans, and stressed that none of the people who first transmitted HIV would have been aware they were infected. His work still received strong protests from one Haitian delegate at the CROI conference however, demonstrating the extent to which tracing HIV’s origins remains a politically sensitive exercise.

* For complete article, go to:

See also: HIV’s path out of Africa: Haiti, the US then the world, Public release date: 25-Oct-2007 Contact: Mari N. Jensen 520-626-9635

And, the errors of professor Worobey (in French) – Highly recommended reading Haïti/Propagation du Sida : Les erreurs du professeur Michael Worobey, Soumis par Weibert Arthus à AlterPresse le 31 octobre 2007

*Weibert Arthus- journaliste, doctorant en Histoire contemporaine des relations
internationales (Université Paris, Sorbonne)

Racism Masquerades as Science

University of Arizona Contact: Michael Worobey 520-626-3456

Challenges on Record:

l. William D. Hamilton, Oxford University, famous evolutionary biologist (on Edward Hooper’s “River”).

2. Dr. Paul Farmer, Harvard University AIDS and Accusations: Haiti and the Geography of Blame

Forwarded by the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network

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