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Fort Detrick Spokesman Says Soviet Report On AIDS Is Ridiculous

April 1, 1987

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) _ A Soviet report claiming the deadly AIDS virus is man-made and leaked from an Army lab at Fort Detrick, Md., is ″absolutely ridiculous,″ according to a base spokesman.

But he said the AIDS virus is a subject of research at the base.

″No virus has ever escaped into the atmosphere,″ said spokesman Norman Covert. ″We’ve never had an incident at Fort Detrick where a dangerous organism has gotten into the air from any laboratory.″

The Soviet news agency Tass said Monday the article in Novosti Military Bulletin did not directly charge the United states with creating AIDS but said the virus was of ″artificial origin.″ It said it leaked from the Army lab despite a system developed in 1977 to deal with dangerous pathogens.

Covert said the Army only began experiments on the AIDS virus this year at Fort Detrick, assisting the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

″Less than a thimbleful″ of the AIDS virus is at the Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at the Frederick base, Covert said Monday.

Fort Detrick is a natural target for such stories because it once conducted secret biological warfare experiments, he noted.

Tass said the article’s author, Peter Nikolayev, said he was reporting the conclusions of U.S., British and East German scientists. It did not identify the scientists.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome,is a fatal disease that attacks the body’s immune system, leaving it unable to resist disease. It can be transmitted through sexual contact, the sharing of contaminated needles by drug abusers or infected blood products. It also can be be transmitted from mother to child at or before birth. There is no known cure.

In October, the Soviet newspaper Literaturnaya Gazeta suggested AIDS might be the result of Pentagon or CIA experiments.

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