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Haiti/Aids accusation : « Another hurricane »

Open letter to Michael Worobey, PhD

By Joseph Marcel-Saint-Louis DeMertine, M.D.

Submitted to AlterPresse on November 1, 2007

November 1, 2007

Michael Worobey, PhD
Assistant Professor of Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology
The University of Arizona
310 Bio Sciences West
1041 East Lowell Street
Tucson, AZ 85721

Dear Professor Worobey :

I was rather shocked to hear about your conclusions regarding the origin and trajectory of the HIV/AIDS virus on NPR (National Public Radio). I felt it like a personal attack, another hurricane, although you probalby didn’t mean it to be so. I could assure you every Haitian and friends of Haitians and Africans on earth felt it as such. Implicating Africa, Haiti and its people (again) as the vectors of the AIDS virus with such certainty seems to overlook the intrinsic unstable—mutation prone nature of viruses, which make tracing them with certainty a virtually impossible task, not to note statistical norms. While I acknowledge and appreciate previous research, It could have originated from anywhere else besides Africa and take any trajectory besides Haiti thanks to globalization which is an ancient and not as new a phenomenon.

I am a General Practitioner and not a Virologist/Geneticist, however my short 3 months summer fellowship at the laboratory of the late Professor Robert Gorlin, a former world reknown leading Geneticist at the University of Minnesota Medical School my alma mater made me understand and appreciate the complexity of the field.

Our work as Scientist, however exciting or promising , has to ultimately offer an added value to the quality of life of human beings and not foster anguish. I will research your work to improve my understanding of how you might come up with such a conclusion. I would also be interested in receiving reprints of your papers which explain your findings.

I hope further investigations in your laboratory and elswhere will help to raise doubts as indicated, if not cancel this first impression outright.
I wish you the best.

Thank you for your concern.


Joseph Marcel-Saint-Louis DeMertine, M.D.

Former Clinical Medicine Fellow, Harvard Medical School