A very long article published today in New York Times re a new book by a Canadian doctor may interest some of my readers.
(Bolding below & red colouring of text were done by me.)
I wonder how France & Belgium are reacting to this book.
Also surely some Americans will be horrified to learn that so much of the US blood plasma in 1971/72 came from a lab with poor hygiene in Haiti.
Chimp to Man to History Books: The Path of AIDS
by DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: October 17, 2011
“The Origins of AIDS,” published last week by Cambridge University Press, Dr. Jacques Pépin, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec,
Working slowly forward from 1900, he explains how Belgian and French colonial policies led to an incredibly unlikely event: a fragile virus infecting a small minority of chimpanzees slipped into the blood of a handful of hunters, one of whom must have sent it down a chain of “amplifiers” — disease eradication campaigns, red-light districts, a Haitian plasma center and gay sex tourism. Without those amplifiers, the virus would not be what it now is: a grim pilgrim atop a mountain of 62 million victims, living and dead.
That suggests AIDS crossed the Atlantic in just one Haitian. Molecular clock dating indicates it reached Haiti roughly in 1966.
Once again, Dr. Pépin argues that rapid expansion through sex alone is mathematically impossible and that there must have been an amplifier. He believes the culprit was a Port-au-Prince plasma center called Hemo-Caribbean that operated only from 1971 to 1972 and was known to have low hygiene standards.
Plasma centers take blood, spin it and return the red cells. If new tubing isn’t used for each patient, infections spread. Sloppy plasma operations caused later H.I.V. outbreaks in Mexico, Spain and India and, most famously, in rural China, where 250,000 sellers were infected.
Hemo-Caribbean’s co-owner was Luckner Cambronne, leader of the feared Tontons Macoutes secret police. Nicknamed the “Vampire of the Caribbean,” Mr. Cambronne, who died in 2006, bled 6,000 sellers who were paid as little as $3 a day and exported 1,600 gallons of plasma to the United States each month, according to an article in The New York Times.
Haiti was also a prime destination for gay American sex tourists; the Spartacus travel guides described how much young men expected to be paid. By the early 1980s, subgroup B was killing both American homosexuals and hemophiliacs, suggesting it arrived via both routes. The modern history of AIDS had begun.