26 May 2006

The Origin of HIV?

Today’s Guardian (and just about every news source on the planet) carried the story that scientists searching for the origin of HIV may have tracked its source to chimpanzees living in southern Cameroon.. Their findings may well provide the link between HIV, and the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a similar virus that infects monkeys and chimpanzees.

Cameroon has two subspecies of chimpanzee, separated by the Sanaga river. North of the river, the chimpanzees are free of SIV, but it was present in colonies immediately on the southern side. Further south tests on chimpanzee faeces here revealed an SIV strikingly similar to the HIV that causes Aids in humans. In some communities they detected SIV specific antibodies and viral genetic information in as many as 35% of chimps.

Researchers have various theories on how the virus jumped to humans but the most widely held view is thatsome times before the 1930s hunters became infected when they caught and butchered infected chimps. Trade along river routes could then have spread the virus, which slowly built up in the human population.

For scientists this may well prove to be an important piece in the HIV puzzle even if many unanswered questions remain. It unlikely, however, to satisfy those who choose to believe less prosaic theories. Those who subscribe, for example, to the ludicrous belief that HIV was created by the USA to kill off africans and homosexuals will probably continue to wallow in this delusion.

6 comments:

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Thanks Jams, You just ruined my appetite for the monkey burger I was to have for dinner.

The theory has been propogated in the States that the virus jumped from animal to man by sexual contact. I prefer the theory showcased here. Now what about the very concerning potential for a Bird Flu Pandemic? Especially since as of last week there is mounting evidence that seems to prove it's a communicable disease. Worrisome. Although, I did blog about a touted cure for bird flu.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Apparently,I need to work on my linking skills. Click on the time marked in the corner.

the flying monkeys said...

I read of this theory but found it hard to agree with

the flying monkeys said...

Thanks for the post

jams o donnell said...

Fear not elasticwaistbandlady a monkey is not an ape so nosh away! Seriously though the idea of and SIV/HIV cross through sexual congress is pretty vile and I would have imagine been dismissed by scientists. That is before you get to the intimation of bestiality..

jams o donnell said...

Thanks Obokun. The theory that the US (or anyone else) created the virus deliberately does not hold water for one key reason: Scienctists quite simply did not ahve the ability to manipulate genetic material with any precision in the 60s or 70s or whenever it was believed it was done.