Monday, February 12, 2024 - 3:30pm
"From Scientific Promise to Public Relations Problem: Chimpanzees in U.S. HIV/AIDS Research, 1983 – 2000"
This talk will explore a period of intense controversy over the use of chimpanzees in U.S. AIDS research in the 1980s and 1990s. In the early years of the AIDS pandemic, American scientific authorities imagined chimpanzees as crucial resources for addressing infectious disease threats, while in the late 1990s, research chimps represented long term financial drains on research labs and were a lightning rod of public criticism. I explore the interplay of diverse animal advocacy objections to chimp’s status as a research subject and scientific debates about if chimpanzees’ value as an animal model was worth the cost of maintaining them. The use of chimpanzees in AIDS research transformed a formerly niche issue of animal rights and conservationists to a topic of wider public debates and spurred concerns about long-term care and cost that lead to the decline of chimpanzee lab research in the U.S.