by Abhi Manivannan
What is it?
The history behind it
Research began in 1981 when a syndrome became present in mainly homosexual men. Though at first it was believed that Gaetan Dugas was responsible for it, it was disovered that the virus HIV was present even in the 1960s and was then traced back to Haiti, and even further back, to Africa. Two samples from Africa were found infected with HIV and the common ancestor of the two was traced back to 1908, the date of spillover (when an infection passes from one species to another). Research began in animals until it was found that monkeys have a disease similar to HIV, named SIV. Chimpanzees have a form SIV extremely similar to HIV 1 so a study was conducted until the specific population of chimps where the disease originated was found, in southeastern Cameroon.
The theory is that the true patient zero, the first human to be infected with HIV was a Bantu man that was hunting in this area when he killed the infected chimp. As he was butchering the chimp he cut himself leading to blood to blood contact. The hunter could have passed it to a women who could have passed it to a fisherman who took the disease through the rivers, to the city. The city, alive with activity, is also filled with opportunities for HIV to spread globally.
The first chimp, who infected the first man, likely got the disease from eating two different types of monkey each with it's own version of SIV. By being in the right place at the same time, the two versions came together and caused the creation of HIV, which thrived, spread and eventually started the pandemic known as AIDS.
Impact On The World
HIV affects every country in the world and continues to grow in many of them. 42 million people today live with HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst affected, with three-quarters of those infected living in this region. The disease has already orphaned 12 million children in Africa.
The disease not only wreaks havoc socially and emotionally but also economically. HIV/AIDS subtracts an additional 1% a year from the GDP of several sub-Saharan African countries because of the continued loss of workers and in South Africa may lower the GDP as much as 17% in the next decade. HIV/AIDS also creates higher costs of health care and destroys health insurance schemes.
HIV and Leukemia?
Allen, N. (n.d.). Emily Whitehead: girl whose cancer was 'cured' by HIV. The Telegraph. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9738355/Emily-Whitehead-girl-whose-cancer-was-cured-by-HIV.html
HIV & AIDS. (n.d.). HIV. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hiv-aids-4264.htm
HIV/AIDS. (n.d.). WHO. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story051/en/
Radiolab. (n.d.). idea explorer. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://www.radiolab.org/story/169885-aids/