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"Where did HIV come from?"

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Updated June 10, 2014

Question: "Where did HIV come from?"

Since HIV emerged, the question was asked:

    "Where did HIV come from?"

The origin of HIV is not always clear. Researchers have traced the history of HIV and you may find the results interesting. What is the origin of HIV?

Answer:
Simply put, until recently we really didn't know for sure. Scientists have always had a number of different theories about the origin of HIV. The earliest known case of HIV was from a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of Congo. How he became infected is not known. Genetic analysis of this blood sample suggests that HIV-1 may have stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

The HIV Epidemic Timeline

We do know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid to late 1970s. From 1979-1981 rare types of pneumonia, cancer, and other illnesses were being reported by doctors in Los Angeles and New York. A number of their gay male patients were presenting with these uncommon illnesses and many died soon after. These were conditions not usually found in people with healthy immune systems.

Opportunistic Infection Fact Sheets

Your Pneumocystis Guide

In 1982 public health officials began to use the term "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome," or AIDS, to describe the occurrences of opportunistic infections, Kaposi's sarcoma, and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in previously healthy men. Formal tracking (surveillance) of AIDS cases began that year in the United States.

Kaposi's Sarcoma Information Guide

Is Name Based HIV Reporting Necessary?

The cause of AIDS is a virus that scientists isolated in 1983. The virus was at first named HTLV-III/LAV (human T-cell lymphotropic virus-type III/lymphadenopathy- associated virus) by an international scientific committee. This name was later changed to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

The Great Minds of HIV

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. AIDS / HIV
  4. HIV/AIDS FAQs
  5. HIV/AIDS Basics
  6. The History of HIV - Where Did HIV Come From?

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