Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first reported the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1981, rumors have persisted that the deadly virus was created by the CIA to wipe out homosexuals and African Americans. Even today, the conspiracy theory has a number of high-profile believers. South African President Thabo Mbeki once touted the theory, disputing scientific claims that the virus originated in Africa and accusing the U.S. government of manufacturing the disease in military labs. When she won the Nobel Peace Prize, Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai used the international spotlight to support that theory as well. Others insist that the government deliberately injected gay men with the virus during 1978 hepatitis-B experiments in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Still others point to Richard Nixon, who combined the U.S. Army's biowarfare department with the National Cancer Institute in 1971. Though the co-discoverers of HIV Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute and Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute in Paris don't agree on its origins, most members of the scientific community believe the virus jumped from monkeys to humans some time during the 1930s.
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