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Thursday, May 25th 2006

HIV Origin

The source of the AIDs epidemic has been found. The direct Simian Immunodeficiency Virus that gave rise to HIV in humans has finally been found in west Africa.

Scientists have long suspected that HIV had its in origins in wild chimp populations. But previously SIV had been found only in some captive chimps.

The virus was found in chimpanzees in southeastern Cameroon, where SIV infection rates were as high as 35 percent in some chimp populations.

Further genetic analysis linked these chimps to the source of the main strain of HIV-1, the most prevalent form of HIV. The team’s findings are to be published tomorrow in the journal Science.

“Eventually the virus ended up in a major metropolitan area, which would either be Kinshasa [Democratic Republic of the Congo]or Brazzaville [Republic of the Congo],” Hahn added. “That’s where we believe the AIDS pandemic really started.”

“We now know there are more than 30 species of monkeys across Africa which have their own forms of SIVs,” said Sharp, who was also involved with the new study.

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