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HIV/AIDS

02 October 2008

Aids pandemic traced to 1908

The Aids virus first began spreading among humans at the turn of the 20th century in sub-Saharan Africa, just as modern cities were emerging in the region, US researchers say.

The deadly Aids virus first began spreading among humans at the turn of the 20th century in sub-Saharan Africa, just as modern cities were emerging in the region, US researchers said on Wednesday.

Nature.

How the research was done
The research is based on 48-year-old gene fragments dug from a wax-embedded lymph node from a woman in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire. The 1960 sample is the second-oldest genetic sequence of HIV-1 group M, the main strain of the virus responsible for the Aids pandemic.

Study gives hope
Research from chimpanzee droppings suggests the virus first spread from chimps to humans in southeastern Cameroon. Worobey thinks the disease spread slowly among the local population until one of the infected people went to Kinshasa, where it had more opportunity to spread.


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