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Researchers
Track Genetic History of HIV

Researchers
Track Genetic History of HIV

Scientists studying the genetic history of HIV have found evidence that the strain of the virus that affects people in the U.S. was present in Haiti as far back as the middle of the last century.

Scientists studying the genetic history of HIV have found evidence that the strain of the virus that affects people in many countries, including the United States, was present in Haiti as far back as the middle of the last century.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is not likely to lead to new treatments but could help researchers as they try to develop a vaccine. According to a report published on the U.S. News and World Report Web site, the coauthor of the study, Michael Worobey, believes this data could hold important clues. "It matters when these events occurred and how often colonizations of new locales occur. That helps us predict the future complexity of the HIV pandemic."

The research is also giving scientists insight into how the virus traveled to the United States by studying blood samples of Haitian immigrants to this country.

"For the last few years we've been thinking it would be good to try to collect and analyze as many archival human samples as possible," Worobey said. "We can travel back in time and look directly at the viruses that were circulating at early time points."

They believe that the strain of HIV they found moved from Africa to Haiti in the mid 1960s and then on to the U.S. in about 1969. (The Advocate)

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