The most pervasive global strain of HIV began spreading in humans around 1900 in sub-Saharan Africa, a new study claims. The research, which is published in the current issue of Nature, found that HIV began spreading between 1884 and 1924, around the same time urban centers in west central Africa were established. This estimated time of origin is decades earlier than the previous estimate of 1930.
Using a database of HIV-1 sequences and an estimate of the rate at which these sequences change over time, the researchers modelled when HIV-1 first surfaced. Their results showed that the most likely date for HIV’s emergence was about 1908, when LÃ©opoldville was emerging as a centre for trade.