19. Telegram From the Department of State to All African Diplomatic Posts1

244258. Subject: Disinformation: AIDS Made in USA. Ref: A) Dakar 8253; B) Dakar 8510; C) Nairobi 27931; D) Moscow 12333.2

1. (LOU) Department notes a major active measures campaign in Africa charging: A) that the AIDS virus was created by the US military for use in biological weapons, B) that the blood supplies of the US and Western Europe are unsafe and contaminated, and C) that the citation of Africa as the disease’s point of origin is some sort of Western conspiracy.

2. (U) These charges were recently aired in a letter to the editor dated May 30 and sent from Lagos under the signature of Gbenga Adefuyeye, patriotic youth movement of Nigeria that has since appeared in publications in Dakar and Nairobi (refs A, B, and C).

3. (LOU) This campaign coincides with charges appearing in Soviet media in April, May and June that the AIDS virus was engineered by the CIA and the Pentagon. Ambassador Hartman sent letters to the editors of these publications on June 25 protesting these articles and, when these letters were not published, released them to the press on July 15. (Ref D)

4. (U) The following guidance should be of use to you should this “Letter to the Editor” or other AIDS-related disinformation appear in your country:

—Charges that the AIDS virus was developed by the US military are preposterous. Research has never revealed any evidence to support the claim that US Government agencies are responsible for creation and dissemination of the disease. These charges are the result of a deliberate and malicious disinformation campaign designed to denigrate the image of the US.

—All blood donated in the US is screened for AIDS antibodies. The US Center for Disease Control has reported that since the spring [Page 52] of 1985, when blood tests for AIDS virus antibodies became routine, only one case of infection by contaminated blood is even suspected.

—Neither the US Government nor the international scientific community believe there is sufficient evidence to establish where AIDS originated. AIDS is caused by a new virus which has been studied for only a brief time. What is known is that AIDS is a worldwide problem which is affecting people on every continent and which must be reacted to immediately and vigorously by national and international health organizations. The question of the origin of this disease is important only repeat only for epidemiological reasons as scientists study all aspects of the virus in searching for possible cures or vaccines. (FYI: Department and WHO steer clear of statements identifying Africa as the origination point of AIDS due to the sensitivities expressed by many African nations.)

5. (C) For Lagos: Is the Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria a genuine organization? Is Adefuyeye an official of that organization?3 Did the organization send out the letter in question?

6. (U) For Dakar and Nairobi: Department commends your efforts to combat this disinformation (refs B and C). The Active Measures Working Group (INR/ID—Dr. Bailey) would appreciate receipt of a copy of dossier Embassy Dakar is compiling on the subject.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D860596–0043. Confidential. Sent for information to Moscow. Drafted by Rapoport; cleared in AF/P, OES/ENR, EUR/SOV, PA, and USIA; approved by Bailey.
  2. Telegram 8253 from Dakar, July 18. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D860553–0606) Telegram 8510 from Dakar, July 25. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D860571–0934) Telegram 27931 from Nairobi was not found. Telegram 12333 from Moscow, July 18. (Department of State, AIDS, 1984–1987, Lot 89D137, AIDS Disinformation ’86)
  3. In telegram 8663 from Lagos, August 12, the Embassy reported: “We can find no evidence of an organization called the Patriotic Youth Movement in Nigeria,” further stating, “Gbenga Adefuyeye is also unknown to Mission officers and contacts.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D860616–0096)