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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

HIV arrived in US from Haiti, New Study

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, probably came into the US from Haiti around the year 1969, a decade earlier than most scientists believed, says new research from the US.

The study is due to be published this week in the Early Online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is the work of Michael Worobey, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at The University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues. The title of the study is "The emergence of HIV/AIDS in the Americas and beyond".

"Our results show that the strain of virus that spawned the US AIDS epidemic probably arrived in or around 1969. That is earlier than a lot of people had imagined," said Worobey in a prepared statement.

"Haiti was the stepping stone the virus took when it left central Africa and started its sweep around the world. Once the virus got to the US, then it just moved explosively around the world," added Worobey.

The researchers found that most HIV/AIDS strains in the US came from a single common ancestor that predates the well storied "Patient Zero" theory. The Patient Zero theory came from a misrepresentation for Patient O (Oh), for "Out of California", where early research on AIDS by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested HIV in the US spread in the late 1970s, early 1980s from one man in California.

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