Johann's AIDS/HIV Email Chain Letter Page


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Mostly this page is devoted to one particular chain letter, but there are some links at the bottom to other resources regarding chain letters, hoaxes, unsolicited email, and other Bad Stuff.

AIDS/HIV Email Chain Letter

This information was written by chain-letter-spam-trap@beda.ca 96/02/07, see footer for last modification date.

I received a few copies (from different friends of mine) of a chain letter asking me to participate in a "class project" involving sending out copies of the chain letter. After getting fed up with it, I decided to put together a comprehensive response and send it out to everyone who was involved in propagating the chain letter. I have not seen copies of this letter since 1996, so maybe it has been killed.

I wish.

Here's the earliest form of the chain letter that this email message (now web page) is about. I do not know if bekessle@mailbox.syr.edu is the same as the "Young bradley" who signed the message, if bekessle@mailbox.syr.edu lets me know where the message came from I will update this information. As of yet they have not answered my email requests for information.

>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Thu, 7 Dec 95 16:45:24 EWT
>From: KEESLER <BEKESSLE@MAILBOX.SYR.EDU>
>To: [some poor sod who's name's been deleted]
>Subject: aids
>
>For a class project, I was wondering if this could be passed on to prove
>a point.  In my human sex class, we learned that if someone has received
>the HIV disease, and they don't know about it, they could pass it on to
>people who they don't even know.
>       Could you all pretend that I have HIV, and I gave it to you.
>Then could you pass it on to your friends?  Let's see if the entire
>e-mail population could get infected by me alone.
>       Please remember that this is a lab experiment.  I have to say
>that I am not intending to offend any one in any way.
>       By the way, don't erase this or the forwards from your computer.
>
> Thankyou
>Young bradley

As I have said to everyone who has sent me this, including the originator back in early December 1996, I would think that my friends would not knowingly infect me with anything, including chain letters. Some have pointed out the parallels between receiving this email and having nonconsentual, unprotected sex with a knowingly infected partner. This is commonly known as rape, and potentially as murder.

I pointed out to the bekessle@mailbox.syr.edu some of the faults of the project, not the least of which is that chain letters are a Bad Thing (TM) no matter what the cause. There are many things that I think are important, and if I started a chain letter for each of them, everyone on the planet would be crushed under the weight of my good intentions.

The project also has problems with its implementation in other areas. It never ends. When is the school project finished? It contains no instructions on where to look for more information. It contains nothing indicating who was responsible or who to contact if there are problems. It does not offer any education on HIV/AIDS. It does not even follow the pattern of HIV infection as I understand it very well either. I suggest that if anyone wants to continue this in a more responsible and logical manner that you should not go out sending messages specifically to "pretend infect" people, since HIV is not usually passed as the only result of a contact. HIV is usually an unanticipated, unwanted "extra" to contact that had some other purpose. Thus I would propose that if you want to do something like this, that you attach to all of your NORMAL email messages a note something like the following (often called a .sig because many email programs store an automatic file to add to the bottom of an email message under the file name ".sig" or ".signature")

* In an effort to raise awareness of HIV I have become 'infected' with     *
* a pretend electronic version of HIV.  By the act of reading this message *
* you have been exposed to this pretend virus.  If you want to become      *
* involved in this project, please send email to                           *
* some-coordinator@someplace.out.there or read about the project at        *
* <http://www.hiv.somewhere/HIV-test.html>                                 *
* for more information about AIDS and HIV, please see                      *
* <http://www.yahoo.com/Health/Diseases_and_Conditions/AIDS_HIV/>          *
I think this is more realistic, more responsible, and more importantly, more useful (people can learn something other than about email chain letters) than the original message. If you have any ideas on how I can improve this idea, let me know, I'll include them here. I think that the overall idea in this chain letter is nice, certainly better than the "pass it on for luck" or the "make big bucks by scamming the world fast" infections, but it still is abusive of the people it is being sent to.

In the future, please do not send out any chain letters. They are against the terms of service of every computer system that I am aware of, regardless of the importance of their subjects. For security problems (such as the fake "Good Times" email virus ), contact your system administrator before passing the information along to "everyone you care about". Anything that involves money is probably also illegal under postal regulations (if you send any money anywhere) (even if people claim they are not illegal due to some postal lottery laws (read the statute, it has nothing to do with pyramid systems, just lotteries) or because there is some nominal product like a mailing list or great recipes involved). The Postal Inspector may come knocking at your door if you break any of these laws. Many are also instances of wire fraud if anything ever gets carried over phone lines - as most computer networking systems certainly do. Always ask yourself the question "If everyone using the network were to do this, would it be Good or Bad" and if the answer is Bad, don't you do it, and politely tell everyone who does it not to do it. The system we are using operates best when everyone cooperates and does not use more than they need. Chain letters are not Good because if everyone sends them the system rapidly breaks down.

Anyway, if you have already been yelled at about this, please forgive my reminder. If you never propagate such chain letters, good for you. Please do not start this message as any sort of chain letter - that would be Bad. Be good, eat plenty of vegetables, listen to your parents, wash behind your ears, etc., etc.


Related Sites

(last updated 99/10/05 - see other links for later additions)

There are two basic types of chain letters: those which promise/threaten good/bad luck, and illegal pyramid-scheme letters that promise to make you lots of money.

Information about chain letters in general:

Information about hoaxes (chain letter "virus" mostly): Parodies of (un)lucky chain letters: Parodies of money-oriented chain letters: If you know of others, let me know.

Other Anti Junk-Email sites :


There may be other links that have yet to be incorporated onto this main page.


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