Did HIV originate in Africa?

by 15/01/2014 19:36:00 0 comments 1365 Views
Did HIV originate in Africa?

Many scientific theories exist regarding the origin of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and none have received unanimous support from the international science community. However, the most commonly accepted theory is that HIV originated in non-human primates in Sub-Saharan Africa and was transferred to humans during the late 19th or early 20th century, a time of rapid urbanization and colonization in equatorial Africa.

HIV is therefore generally believed to have evolved from the similar Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). Because the form of the virus that affects humans most closely resembles the simian immunodeficiency virus that infects the chimpanzee subspecies Pan troglodytes troglodytes, most scientists agree that the virus originated in populations of wild chimpanzees in West-Central Africa.

The most plausible explanation for virus's jump from chimps to humans is called the 'Hunter Theory'. The theory holds that infection occurred when a hunter was bitten or cut while hunting or butchering a chimpanzee, perhaps in Cameroon or The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The hunter's exposure to infected chimpanzee blood or other bodily fluids could have resulted in infection. HIV is therefore an example of zoonosis, or an infectious disease that can be passed from non-human animals to humans.