HIV/ AIDS Conspiracy Theories, 1983 to the Present: The Significant, but Limited Role of Soviet-Bloc Disinformation

Brown Bag Breakfast mit Douglas Selvage

Do, 9.6.2022, 9:30 bis 11:00
Berliner Kolleg Kalter Krieg
Zimmerstraße 56
10117 Berlin

Nur auf Einladung.

Vortrag in englischer Sprache.

A popular narrative in the press and some academic publications suggests that the Soviet state-security service, the KGB, created a popular conspiracy theory in the mid-1980s - namely, that the U.S. government had created the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) as a biological weapon to kill unwanted populations. The KGB, this popular narrative continues, then spread the conspiracy theory around the world with the assistance of the East German Stasi. These efforts of the Soviet-bloc security services allegedly explain the ongoing popularity of the conspiracy theory until today.

Without minimizing the role of the KGB or Stasi in contributing to the development of the conspiracy theory and its spread, Douglas Selvage argues that the Soviet-bloc security services neither created the original conspiracy theory nor bear lone responsibility for its spread and popularity. In his presentation, he will trace the development of the conspiracy theory from its origins in the U.S.; through its co-evolution into two strands in a very public debate between proponents of KGB-associated disinformation and individuals associated with perennial right-wing U.S. presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche; through various (post-) Cold War apostles who exploited and adapted the conspiracy theory to their own ends; and up to its recycling in Covid misinformation and disinformation today.


Dr. Douglas Selvage is a research associate at the Institute for History at the Humboldt University in Berlin.