Aids virus 'traced to Haiti'

Strain probably brought to US from Caribbean island in 1969 by immigrant.

    The scientists analysed the blood samples of
    Haitian immigrants from 1979 [AP]
    Blood samples
     
    Scientists undertook a genetic analysis of stored blood samples from early Aids patients to discover from when the virus came to the US.
     
    They found that HIV was brought to Haiti from Africa around 1966 by an infected person, and subsequently arrived, probably in a major city, in the US around 1969.
     
    It is thought that from here it circulated for many years through the US and to other nations.
     
    The team used blood samples from Haitian immigrants with a mystery illness stored by the US government as early as 1979.
     
    Five samples dating from 1982 and 1983 were analysed, as was genetic data from 117 early Aids patients from different parts of the world.
     
    From this the molecular clock of the world's predominate strain of HIV was calibrated and subsequent calculations gave an estimate for the disease's arrival in Haiti from Africa and then in the US.
     
    'Hard evidence'
     
    Dr Arthur Pitchenik, from the University of Miami, is one of the study's authors, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
     
    He said: "I think that it gives us more clear insight into the history of it [the Aids epidemic] and what path the virus took - and hard, objective evidence, not just armchair thinking."
     
    The study gave a 99.8 per cent probability that Haiti was the disease's stopping point, rather than HIV moving directly between Africa and the US. The disease's path between countries has been debated for a long time.
     
    The leader of the study Michael Worobey, of the University of Arizona, Tucson, said the date of 1969 for Aids' arrival in the US is earlier than some experts expected and around 12 years before the disease was discovered in 1981.
     
    During this time HIV infections were rising and people were dying of the disease.
     
    "It is somehow chilling to know it was probably circulating for so long under our noses," Worobey said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.