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SIDA : son origine

Article paru dans la revue Science du 3 octobre :


The hidden history of the HIV pandemic

Rail and river transport in 1960s Congo, combined with the sexual revolution and changes in health care practices, primed the HIV pandemic. Faria et al. unpick the circumstances surrounding the ascendancy of HIV from its origins before 1920 in chimpanzee hunters in the Cameroon to amplification in Kinshasa. Around 1960, rail links promoted the spread of the virus to mining areas in southeastern Congo and beyond. Ultimately, HIV crossed the Atlantic in Haitian teachers returning home. From those early events, a pandemic was born.

Science, this issue p. 56

Jon Cohen

Genetic study reveals fresh details on HIV's emergence.

A new, sophisticated analysis of hundreds of genetic sequences of HIV from different time points and locations adds fascinating insights to the origin of the AIDS epidemic. The study, which appears in this issue of Science (see p. 56), confirms earlier analyses that an HIV-infected person came to what today is Kinshasa around 1920, but it then shows for the first time how the virus went from there to two cities in the southeastern portion of the country, likely aided by the extensive rail system that then existed. The researchers also note that 13 documented cases exist of different simian viruses jumping from chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys into humans, but only one—known has HIV-1 group M—sparked a global epidemic. They show that group M and another strain, group O, expanded at the same rate until about 1960, but then group M nearly tripled its rate of spread. Possible reasons include public health campaigns that had contaminated needles and an increase in the number of clients of sex workers.


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    • Abstract 


       Thirty years after the discovery of HIV-1, the early transmission, dissemination, and establishment of the virus in human populations remain unclear. Using statistical approaches applied to HIV-1 sequence data from central Africa, we show that from the 1920s Kinshasa (in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo) was the focus of early transmission and the source of pre-1960 pandemic viruses elsewhere. Location and dating estimates were validated using the earliest HIV-1 archival sample, also from Kinshasa. The epidemic histories of HIV-1 group M and nonpandemic group O were similar until ~1960, after which group M underwent an epidemiological transition and outpaced regional population growth. Our results reconstruct the early dynamics of HIV-1 and emphasize the role of social changes and transport networks in the establishment of this virus in human populations.

    • origine-sida-science.pdf

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