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» 17.11.2006 - Scientists predict next Ebola outbreak
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Health | Society

Spread of AIDS linked to colonialism

afrol News, 7 October - A recent study has developed a new hypothesis that linked the spread of the AIDS virus to colonisation, which has played a major role in the spread of the disease in some parts of Africa.

The study published in the British science magazine, Nature, has reported the spread of the AIDS virus in towns in central Africa in the late 19th century.

The study believed this has played a major role in the spread of the disease in the region. The study, conducted by a team of international research team, questioned the transmission of the virus from monkey to man because the disease could have been passed on to man in 1880 instead of 1930.

A researcher from the university of Tucson, Arizona, and his colleagues, believed the colonisation of central African towns is said to have greatly contributed to the massive spread of the AIDS virus.

Researchers said the arrival of Belgian colonialists at the end of the 19th century allowed for the assembly of a number of conductive factors which enhanced for development and spread of the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo [formerly Zaire]. They also blamed urbanisation, growth, migration, mingling of populations and prostitution for contributing to the spread of the disease in Leopoldville [now Kinshasha].

The scientific research team, comprising Americans, Belgians, French and Congolese analysed the sequences of the two oldest viruses known to man. They were extracted from a woman and man in Leopoldville in 1960 and 1959, respectively.

Studies on the two virus samples show several possible mutations of the AIDS virus in the central African region, but with time, the two viruses with a common ancestry had completely mutated into two different viruses, proving the existence of the virus' ancestor at a much earlier date.

The differences in genetic samples of the two viruses proved that the multiple mutations of the virus in the western parts of central Africa took place long before the spread of the AIDS.

Researches also confirm central Africa as being the epicenter of the virus. Its spread was blamed on either man's consumption of an infected monkey meat or came itno contact with the primate's blood during a hunt.

First discovered in 1981 as a sample of simple form of viral infection, two French professors Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo, supplied full knowledge of AIDS two years later.

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