Spread of HIV Follows Western Imperialism in Africa

The origin of AIDS has been publically debated since the early 1980s. Theories about the source of the disease ran from popular folklore involving a gay Canadian male airline steward who spread the disease casually to careless government experimentation on gays, blacks and cats. All, of course, are totally untrue.

The most recent genetic discovery suggests the disease actually began in southeastern Cameroon as an epidemic when a hunter was infected by the blood of a chimpanzee he was butchering and preparing to eat.

By systematically going through chimp feces, Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Paul Sharp of the University of Edinburgh have identified the simian strain of the HIV-1 virus in the remote southeastern portion of the Cameroon. Based on this, it is now thought the disease began in the heart of Africa during a time of intense colonization and translocation of local people.  The pair’s findings were published in the journal Science in 2006.

Even though we didn’t know much about this virus until the 1980s, scientists had collected a sample of it in Kinshasha, formerly Leopoldville, as early as 1959. Leopoldville was made famous in Joseph Conrad’s book “Heart of Darkness.” In his book, the protagonist transports ivory and other booty down the unnamed Congo River amid danger and treachery. Not even the threat of death at the hands of disease were enough to stop the explorations then considered ‘progress’ as Belgium, under King Leopold II, claimed its share of the African continent.  A second wax-encased lymph node biopsy from 1960 identified in 2008 drew further connections to the 1959 discovery.

Due to the many television programs using forensic technology and progress with DNA and the human genome theory, it has become easier to accept that these two genetic findings are indeed related.  And according to scientists, they suggest a relationship that dates back to 1908.

Scientists outlined the history of the HIV-1 disease from these findings and speculate that colonization followed enterprise,  natural riverways and oceans. They believe that the town of Kinshasha provided fertile ground for the birth of the virus, starting first on the Sangha River in the Belgian Congo, then moving into the vast and dangerous Congo River where sub-types of the virus followed colonization’s expansion.  In other words, all theories meet at the Congo River in what is today called Zaire.

It is generally accepted that Africans working as porters or slaves moved over land and river routes and the disease followed.  In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter whether you believe:

a hunter, a porter or an ivory collector — gave HIV to a sexual partner. There may have been a small outbreak around the trading station before the virus found its way aboard a steamship headed down the Sangha River.  For this fateful journey south, HIV could have ridden in the body of these first victims, or it could have been somebody infected later: a soldier or a laborer. Or it could have been carried by a woman: a concubine, a trader.

Yet in accepting the theory that the origins of HIV-1 were southeastern Cameroon, one must also accept the spread of the virus would not have been possible without the West.  In this case, it was because of King Leopold II, with his drive to expand the Belgian empire and create an important trading station at Kinshasha, deep in the heart of Africa. History suggests that in this environment, all the rules were made to be broken.  Evidence of this is carried in this virus.


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Photo credit: Thinkstockphotos - Hemera


Patricia H.
Patricia H.5 years ago


Phillipa W.
Phillipa W5 years ago

As far as I can tell Dr Robert Callo is the doctor who was heading up the research to produce HIV and the first cases were administered to US men in 1977 with the Hep B vaccine trials. They are still looking for a blood sample taken prior to 1977 which is infected with HIV or AIDS as so far every single blood sample has been negative. If they are correct about when it was manufactured and scientific journals at the time were accurate, then indeed it was manufactured as a military bio-weapon

Victoria G.
Victoria M5 years ago

Judy, the belief that sex with virgins (not required to be children) is much more prevalent in South Africa than the rest of Africa. South Africa is sadly much more behind because the former president of South Africa, Mbeki, decided to rely on conspiracy theories found on the Internet to believe that HIV does not lead to AIDS; AIDS is what white people infect blacks with in the name of treating HIV. So he banned all treatment against HIV, including the drug used to stop the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to baby during birth. Only recently has the country begun allowing treatment against this disease.

This is the example I use among my college competition students about the need to evaluate all your sources before you use material from them for anything from papers to federal policy!

Will Rogers
Will Rogers5 years ago

How exactly do they know it was from chimpanzee blood infecting a butcher. Who is this butcher? Where exactly did it happen? This seems to be speculation. Facts please. Don't just repeat what you've heard!

Estelle Eestermans

Western scientists are responsible for the creation and spread of AIDS, mainly throughb the Polio vaccine in the late 1950's. For more info, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=LZs1V8mpcoY&NR=1

Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Hhhmmmm... thanks for this point of view which may be a bit askew. Western Imperialism, really??

Cori J.
Cori Johnson5 years ago


LD B5 years ago

No, Silvia v., said video does NOT say that it was "done deliberately."

Mary D.
Mary Driver5 years ago


Lloyd H5 years ago

WHAT! Please, if possible pull head from ass. The Spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa and the millions of dead and dying, men, women and children is/was/will be directly caused by The Catholic Church and other Fundamentalist Christian Sects forbidding the use of condoms, the education of the populace about condoms. And what was one a complete denial of supplying condoms and education by Western Nations by the entrenched Holier Than Thou Christian Politicians, look up the International Gag Order in the modern era. In the past Christian Imperialism began before the Loepold II and missionaries infected the indigenous first with Christianity or Islam then began exporting human cargo for the slave trade which would have spread the disease in a much different pattern. particularly to slavers and slave owners.