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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 20;104(47):18566-70. Epub 2007 Oct 31.

The emergence of HIV/AIDS in the Americas and beyond.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.

Abstract

HIV-1 group M subtype B was the first HIV discovered and is the predominant variant of AIDS virus in most countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa. However, the circumstances of its origin and emergence remain unresolved. Here we propose a geographic sequence and time line for the origin of subtype B and the emergence of pandemic HIV/AIDS out of Africa. Using HIV-1 gene sequences recovered from archival samples from some of the earliest known Haitian AIDS patients, we find that subtype B likely moved from Africa to Haiti in or around 1966 (1962-1970) and then spread there for some years before successfully dispersing elsewhere. A "pandemic" clade, encompassing the vast majority of non-Haitian subtype B infections in the United States and elsewhere around the world, subsequently emerged after a single migration of the virus out of Haiti in or around 1969 (1966-1972). Haiti appears to have the oldest HIV/AIDS epidemic outside sub-Saharan Africa and the most genetically diverse subtype B epidemic, which might present challenges for HIV-1 vaccine design and testing. The emergence of the pandemic variant of subtype B was an important turning point in the history of AIDS, but its spread was likely driven by ecological rather than evolutionary factors. Our results suggest that HIV-1 circulated cryptically in the United States for approximately 12 years before the recognition of AIDS in 1981.

Comment in

  • The epidemiology of AIDS in Haiti refutes the claims of Gilbert et al. [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008]
  • When HIV spread afar. [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007]
PMID:
17978186
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2141817
Free PMC Article
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