Ever since HIV/Aids was first identified in the US in 1981, rumours have persisted as to its cause and origin.
One of the theories that has nevertheless captured the imagination of conspiracists is that the deadly virus was created by the CIA to wipe out homosexuals and African Americans on the orders of US president Richard Nixon.
It boasts a number of high-profile supporters including former South African president Thabo Mbeki who once touted the theory, “disputing scientific claims that the virus originated in Africa and accusing the US government of manufacturing the disease in military labs” says Times magazine. Meanwhile, a number of prominent scientists, including former Nobel Peace Prize Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, have also backed the theory.
There is evidence that the CIA connection was, in fact, created by the KGB as part of a Cold War disinformation campaign to discredit the US.
Dubbed Operation Infektion, the USSR published letters from “anonymous US official sources” in scientific journals and newspapers throughout the 1980s claiming that virus was a CIA experiment gone wrong. This initially remained within the medical community but as the epidemic grew, the theory took hold and persists to this day.