Home Health HIV has ancient origins that could be traced back millions of years

HIV has ancient origins that could be traced back millions of years


A new research suggests that the origins of HIV can be traced back millions rather than tens of thousands of years.

HIV, which causes AIDS, emerged in humans in the 20th Century, but scientists have long known that similar viruses in monkeys and apes have existed for much longer.

A genetic study shows HIV-like viruses arose in African monkeys and apes 5 million to 12 million years ago.

The research may one day lead to a better understanding of HIV and AIDS.

The HIV virus affects 34 million people worldwide.

The disease emerged during the 20th century after a HIV like virus jumped from chimps to humans.

Scientists have long known that similar viruses, known as lentiviruses, are widespread in African primates.


Past genetic research has suggested these “cousins” of the HIV-virus arose tens of thousands of years ago, but some experts have suspected this is an underestimate.

Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle, US, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, also in Seattle, looked at the genetic signatures of HIV-like viruses in a number of primates, including chimps, gorillas, orangutans and macaques.

A genetic study shows HIV like viruses arose in African monkeys and apes 5 million to 12 million years ago 350x180 photo

A genetic study shows HIV-like viruses arose in African monkeys and apes 5 million to 12 million years ago

Changes in genes that have evolved in the immune systems of monkeys and apes in Africa suggest the viruses arose between 5 and 16 million years ago.

The research, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, gives clues to how the immune systems of our closest relatives evolved to fight infection.

Dr. Michael Emerman of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said: “Our study reveals that, while primate lentiviruses may have modern consequences for human health, they have ancient origins in our non-human primate relatives.”

Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.
  • Fernandez

    This is such a LIE… Everyone knows that HIV/AIDS was genetically engineered in a lab. First tested on 12 gay men in New York, and then deliberately placed in Africa. Now Africa is being labeled the culprit of the disease. There is a MAJOR agenda behind the creation of HIV. Do not be fooled by this nonsense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.pinkly Lisa Pinkly

    The below statement is ludicrous and ignorant. As a premed student (one who has studied about viruses and primitive organisms) I can assure you that long, long before the existence of man, there were bacteria and viruses. It didn’t take modern day man to invent them as a conspiracy against homosexuals or against the people of Africa. There are genetic markers found in both bacteria and viruses that show the signs of their evolution from more primitive forms and that evolution has taken great amounts of time. If you are not educated on a topic, please refrain from perpetuating misinformation on said topic. And when scientists who have PhDs in medicine, biochemistry, genetics and microbiology spend their entire life committed to the research in these areas, don’t embarrass yourself with ignorant comments about the research being a LIE…or of a MAJOR agenda…it just proves your comment is foolish nonsense.