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AIDS Virus Now Estimated To Be 100 Years Old 316

Posted by timothy
from the younger-than-harley-davidson dept.
ChazeFroy writes "A new study estimates that the AIDS virus, HIV, started to circulate in the human population between 1884 and 1924, with a more focused estimate at 1908. This is much earlier than the previously-held estimate of 1930. 'The new result is "not a monumental shift, but it means the virus was circulating under our radar even longer than we knew," says Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, an author of the new work.' The article also speculates that HIV first began to spread in Kinshasa, Congo."
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AIDS Virus Now Estimated To Be 100 Years Old

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  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DurendalMac (736637) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:23PM (#25222365)
    But I thought it was made back in the 60/70s to wipe out gay and black people! You mean it wasn't the government or the Jews that did it? /loony
    • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:51PM (#25222803) Homepage Journal

      I'm skeptical. How could a disease with such a long incubation period not be recognized for over a century? It's not like needles or anal sex were invented in 1965. And then in a period of a few years become a worldwide epidemic? Yeah, I RTFA but I'm not buying the "city" hypothesis; it's not like people in the country don't have anal sex.

      Two notes though, the first serious and the second humorous (humoroidous).

      When I was in Thailand in the USAF from Aug. 1973 to Aug 1974, there were rumors of a sexually transmitted disease that was being hushed up by the government. The rumor had it that this disease was fatal and had no cure, and if you caught it you would be transferred to Guam and never heard from again. Most of us dismissed these rumors as government propaganda to keep us away from the whores or at least to get us to use condoms (penicillin isn't free) but when AIDS came around in 1981 (killing "free sex" and having women not come up to you asking you "wanna fuck?", damned AIDS!) I started to wonder if the rumor might have been true.

      Secondly, a wag I worked with when AIDS started in 1981 said AIDS was an acronym for "Anal Intercourse Death Syndrome". It really isn't an STD but a blood-borne disease, more easily transmitted by blood transfusions, dirty needles, and sex that tears into the flesh. It's damned hard for a man to catch it having sex with a woman unless the sex is anal or while she's on her period, particularly if he's been circumcised.

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:10PM (#25223099)

        I'm skeptical. How could a disease with such a long incubation period not be recognized for over a century? It's not like needles or anal sex were invented in 1965. And then in a period of a few years become a worldwide epidemic? Yeah, I RTFA but I'm not buying the "city" hypothesis; it's not like people in the country don't have anal sex.

        It was an order of magnitude difference. Many of the sexual histories of the initial cases in San Francisco had hundreds of sexual contacts per year. Typical bathhouse sexual encounters numbered over 5 per night per person. One case history example is that Gaëtan Dugas claimed to have had 2500 sexual encounters in his life. These types of numbers don't occur in the country. Additionally, country sex is less anonymous and more often with the same partner. Most of the bathhouse encounters were with different people.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by R2.0 (532027)

          In another post I mentioned the 2 competing theories of the disease, behavioral and infectious agent, and how the latter "won". The interesting part is that the treatment model that accompanied the behavioral theory - i.e. "stop fucking people you aren't married/monogamous with" - would have had a BETTER societal outcome than the current treatment model. Right now we have lifetime drug therapy and HIV infection has transitioned from "acute" to "chronic", and researchers have noted that the incidence of ca

          • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@@@infamous...net> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @05:29PM (#25225053) Homepage

            The interesting part is that the treatment model that accompanied the behavioral theory - i.e. "stop fucking people you aren't married/monogamous with" - would have had a BETTER societal outcome than the current treatment model.

            It's not necessary to "stop fucking people you aren't married/monogamous with" to stop the spread of HIV. It's necessary to "stop fucking people whose HIV status you don't know" and "stop fucking without a condom".

            Some of us just aren't wired for monogamy, and telling people "don't be what you are!" is always a piss-poor recommendation. Especially when it comes to basic drives like sex.

            Get tested, ask your partners to get tested, and just wear it [nsucurrent.com].

          • by Zangief (461457)

            People just don't like to act according to your retarded moral standards. Instead of burying your head on the ground and blaming the victims, we are actually trying to solve the problem.

          • by jbeach (852844) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @07:06PM (#25226285) Homepage Journal
            It would be great if changing people's behaviors were anywhere near that easy. But changing peoples' behaviors is just about the most difficult thing you can try. And especially when you're talking about sex - it's wired directly into the brain, body and mind. So this whole notion of "stop fucking" is in direct conflict with millions of years of hardware **and** software.

            For a similar situation, consider how harmful drug addiction is, and how "simple" it is to get off drugs: just stop buying them and taking them. But drugs plug into a lot of the exact same brain and body hardware and software as sex does. As a result, we've found, "Just Say No" doesn't really solve the problem.

            I mean hell, a majority of us Americans can't even stop from eating too much. We all consciously know how to lose weight: eat less, exercise more. Doesn't mean we do it - because far more than our conscious mind is involved in that decision.

        • One case history example is that GaÃtan Dugas claimed to have had 2500 sexual encounters in his life.

          Every day for 6.8 years? Oh wait.. "encounters" can mean anything.... for a minute... I was envious.

          • by billcopc (196330)

            Getting kicked in the nuts also counts. I'll bet that happened quite a bit to that sad worthless waste of flesh.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Well, for this case, let's say an "encounter" is one sexual encounter between two people, where one is infected, and there is a non-zero chance of transmission to the non-infected person.

            In fact, I ran some interesting numbers myself just now in Excel.

            If we use these as our variables (easy to switch around in a spreadsheet):

            Infections per encounter: 1/10
            Average years before realizing they're infected and stop copulating: 2

            Then if everybody averaged 5 distinct sexual encounters with different people, every

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:30PM (#25223409) Journal

        Not to be snide, but:
        >How could a disease with such a long incubation period not be recognized for over a century?

        I think you've answered your own question.

        All you need is for the disease symptoms to take longer to show up than the average lifespan of the victims and you have a basically invisible disease.
        Add doctors' general unwillingness to put 'cause of death: unknown' on death certificates, and put your disease in a place where young death from other diseases -- particularly cholera, yellow fever, and smallpox -- was completely rampant, and you have everything you need to make a disease run for fifty years invisibly.
        In 1910, there were still widely-respected doctors arguing that bad air was responsible for malaria and yellow fever. The idea that a viral infection could stay latent for 15 years after contraction was completely out of their experience.

        • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:42PM (#25223621) Journal

          Add doctors' general unwillingness to put 'cause of death: unknown' on death certificates, and put your disease in a place where young death from other diseases -- particularly cholera, yellow fever, and smallpox --

          Actually, the cause of death wasn't unknown. They very clearly died of cholera/yellow fever/smallpox, and the patient had always been rather sickly. The doctors just didn't realize that there was a disease that caused the patient to be sickly all those years.

          • by bcwright (871193) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @04:54PM (#25224643)

            You are basically correct that most of those early victims would have died of other, well-known diseases. In addition there were (and still are) a lot of poorly-understood tropical diseases circulating in the affected population, which would have been almost exclusively native Africans living in great poverty in often remote areas of the continent. It would not have registered high on anyone's radar - everyone knew there were a lot of obscure diseases circulating there, but they didn't affect anyone in the "developed" world and nobody had the tools to track them down or treat them in any event; antibiotics were still decades in the future.

            However the specific examples of smallpox and yellow fever would probably not have been the most likely secondary infections to cause death. These two diseases are viral diseases, and most of the opportunistic infections that characterize AIDS are bacterial or fungal.

            Nevertheless your main point - that the secondary infections would have been mistakenly believed to be the primary infections - is well-taken, it's just that the secondary infections would have been primarily things like cholera, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and so forth.

      • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by archen (447353) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:50PM (#25223731)

        I'm skeptical. How could a disease with such a long incubation period not be recognized for over a century

        Keep in mind that AIDS doesn't actually kill you. Your immune system is defeated by AIDS and something else kills you. If you have the flu (which can be fatal), then die, the conclusion would probably be that the person died of the flu instead of that their immune system was compromised by some virus that stays dormant for years. Then add onto that the medical technology of the period, and what it was in Africa at that time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by 4D6963 (933028)

        I'm skeptical. How could a disease with such a long incubation period not be recognized for over a century? It's not like needles or anal sex were invented in 1965. And then in a period of a few years become a worldwide epidemic? Yeah, I RTFA but I'm not buying the "city" hypothesis; it's not like people in the country don't have anal sex.

        Thank you Slashdot non-expert for debunking the whole story thanks to wild guesses about the rate of propagation of STDs in the Congolese countryside!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Two things to remember: diseases initially spread in an exponential growth pattern, and AIDS is a syndrome. You don't die of an HIV infection, you die of some other disease that kills you because your immune system is shot.

        It's surprising to me that HIV isn't OLDER. A few people get it and die of weird diseases. Every year a few more. The growth rate itself grows, until one day the disease is infecting enough new people each year that someone wonders why so many people seem to be dying of otherwise very

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Well lets add in.
        Travel. Just how many people from Africa went to the US or Europe before around 1965.
        How remote of a region was it.
        And just how many people in that region where dieing of other things all the time.
        And yes frankly oral sex was considered pretty kinky back in the 60s and 70s. Yes sex with multiable partners and alternative forms of sex have gotten a lot more prolific over the years. Well outside of the military based in far east.

      • You forget that in the region where the disease is purported to have originated, homosexuality is, in many cases, punishable by death.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:24PM (#25222381) Homepage Journal

    It took over 70 years for HIV to be named.

    What diseases that crossed the species barrier in the last 30 years will we be talking about in 2078?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:29PM (#25222445)

      davidwr's disease!

    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:31PM (#25222465)
      Obviously the QDP virus, and the OVB bacterium will have mutated by that point as well. Of course, after our bout with AFLP in 2048, we'll be much better equipped to deal with them, even with the smaller population. Overall, 2078 will be seen as a time when we've mostly re-conquered disease.
    • Miss Cleo says ebola. I'm stocking up on gas masks, spam, and guns, but after hearing that I'm also going to be stocking up on orange juice. Figure that'll be good for if I catch it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by HTH NE1 (675604)

        I'm stocking up on gas masks, spam, and guns, but after hearing that I'm also going to be stocking up on orange juice. Figure that'll be good for if I catch it.

        Pinky: Ahoy Brain. We're almost out of spam, but there's a bunch of gelatine in here with bits of spam stuck to it. Do you want any?
        Brain: [vomiting]
        Pinky: Right, I'll save you some then. Zort!

    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:09PM (#25223073) Homepage Journal

      Probably quite a few.

      One of the big killers in worldwide mortality statistics (after HIV and malaria) is, if I recall, "acute respiratory infection", which includes just about anything that didn't get an official diagnosis other than the obvious fact the person died of some kind of lung infection. That probably contains countless infectious agents as yet unknown to science.

      Infectious agents often develop a kind of symbiotic relationship with their host populations. They are tolerated by the populations, but they are deadly to immunologically naive populations. Move into to take over another population's niche, and you must endure ordeal by disease.

      Emerging diseases will be a major story throughout this century, mark my words. As people move into previously "pestilential" habitats, as climate change disrupts and displaces populations, we'll be seeing a lot more the likes of HIV, bird flu, and Ebola (which is probably the least dangerous of the three in a public health sense).

      Now is the time for a new Apollo program, but in the biological sciences. Now is the time to pick a family of viruses, like influenza, and learn to attack it, not just by public health and immunization measures, but directly through its genetic, biochemical and biological characteristics. This would not only be of great practical benefit, it would prepare us for new agents, or new strains of old infectious agents.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stickerboy (61554)

        >One of the big killers in worldwide mortality statistics (after HIV and malaria) is, if I recall, "acute respiratory infection", which includes just about anything that didn't get an official diagnosis other than the obvious fact the person died of some kind of lung infection. That probably contains countless infectious agents as yet unknown to science.

        You're making a mountain out of a molehill. "Acute respiratory infection" is another way of saying an elderly person with a failing immune system died o

      • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:42PM (#25225941)

        Now is the time for a new Apollo program, but in the biological sciences. Now is the time to pick a family of viruses, like influenza, and learn to attack it, not just by public health and immunization measures, but directly through its genetic, biochemical and biological characteristics.

        Would this be a program where we focus a good chunk of the national GDP on curing the flu, finally cure it in twelve people, and then never do it again?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bitrex (859228)

        Several years ago I came down with a chronic illness after some kind of massive viral/bacterial infection. Having had quite a bit of experience over the past years with the medical profession, I believe the problem with your idea of an "Apollo program" for biological sciences is that the healthcare industry is already massively overburdened with the diseases we already know about.

        When I first became ill, I was naive in thinking that since my illness did not fit into any standard patterns, physicians might

    • by dr_strang (32799) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:39PM (#25223567)

      What diseases that crossed the species barrier in the last 30 years will we be talking about in 2078?

      None. We'll all be dead from the Captain Trips by then.

    • by reverseengineer (580922) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @04:03PM (#25223931)

      Modern transportation networks, industrialized agriculture/animal husbandry, and globalization all make it less likely that a zoonotic disease will be able to remain contained in a small population for the length of time HIV managed. The construction of road networks deep into the rainforests of the Congo (sometimes described as "the AIDS Highway") connected a huge biological reservoir with the wider world, and the construction of the international air travel network eliminated many of the natural geographic barriers to the spread of disease. It is of note that that Ebola and Marburg both found their way out of the jungle at about the same time as HIV; Marburg is naturally endemic to central Africa, but gets its name from an outbreak in Germany.

      As development continues into the high-biodiversity tropics, we will continue to be confronted by new diseases. What will disappear is endemism, where a disease can percolate among a small reservoir for decades before breaking out into the wider world. AIDS is thought to have trickled through a network of truck drivers and prostitutes across central Africa, until it finally made it to people who hopped on planes and spread it to Europe and North America. Now, someone can pick up a disease in a jungle (or a livestock processing plant) and bring it to New York, London, or Shanghai the next morning. On the other hand, reporting and containment of outbreaks has become faster- in large part from painful lessons learned from the spread of AIDS.

      To more precisely answer the parent's question though-"What diseases that crossed the species barrier in the last 30 years will we be talking about in 2078?"- my guess is we'll still be dealing with foodborne microorganisms, especially the pathogenic E. coli strains, with the expectation that one of those will pop up with a nasty new enterohemorrhagic strain in the vein of E. coli O157:H7. I think we'll still be talking about prion diseases given their relation to the food supply as well. Their first recorded human cases are earlier than 30 years ago, but I'd argue for the emerging future importance of West Nile virus and dengue fever as the types of mosquitoes that spread them have greatly increased their ranges. Probably some sort of viral respiratory ailment (like SARS)- they just spread so easily.

      Factoid about E. coli: the O157:H7 strain, the one which causes the most serious human illness, is nothing new. It is estimated to have picked up its nasty shigatoxin (distinguishing it from the more benign strains) between 2 and 4 million years ago. The first recorded outbreak in humans, however, occurred in 1982.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:25PM (#25222389)

    The Apple bumper sticker included with your Apple purchase can also double as an AIDS awareness sticker...

  • To spread, a virus has to infect from older to younger people faster than they grow old and die. This is especially pronounced for an std, with far less chances to spread than say a flu.

    I bet there's some correlation between how long a being lives and how good its immune system is at fighting off new viruses. What I mean is, creatures like sharks, the crock family, turtles(?) have such fierce immune systems (ie molecular acid for blood) that they can afford to live basically forever.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      What I mean is, creatures like sharks, the crock family, turtles(?) have such fierce immune systems (ie molecular acid for blood) that they can afford to live basically forever.

      I think you're getting your Earth species confused with Internecivus raptus [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by CronicBurn (316845)

      How funny that an add for "The Flexible Shaft Ratcheting Screwdriver" from ThinkGeek shows up, in an HIV/AIDS thread, and it's tag line is "More flexible screwing".

      Har...

  • by R2.0 (532027) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:39PM (#25222581)

    I did a study on AIDS for a philosophy of Science class, focussing on the (then) competing disease models: viral cause and lifestyle cause. The main proponent of the latter was Peter Duesberg, a well respected researcher, who put forth the arguement that HIV was simply an opportunistic infection that could catch hold of a person after the damage they had done to their bodies by IV drug use and poor lifestyle choices. The major arguement behind this was that, if AIDS was caused by an infectious agent, it is acting in a manner contrary to everything we know about how diseases work.

    Well, it turns out that he was wrong, and indeed HIV is different than what we've seen before. And the therapeutic treatments bear this out - surpress the virus and people don't get AIDS.

    But...

    Stuff like this pops up, and one really starts to wonder if the AIDS experts really know what they're talking about. A virus hangs around for a hundred years and then BLAMMO - instant deadliness. Yeah, I guess it's possible, but it does reinforce Duesberg's original point - AIDS doesn't act the way we normally believe diseases should act.

    • by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:55PM (#25222859)

      HIV/AIDS simply requires certain circumstances (which didn't exist until relatively recently) to thrive effectively due to its specific limitations, such as its means of transmission.

      A fire in a desert will not spread effectively, as there's nothing for it to burn and spread via, but a fire in a drought-ridden forest will thrive.

      • by kurisuto (165784)

        You don't spell out what the change in circumstances are, but I'd guess that you're referring to the sexual revolution of the 1970's and to the gay rights movement.

        Actually, I think a strong case can be made that the real change is in attitudes, not behaviors. When the first quantitative studies of human sexual activity were done back in the early 1950's, it was shown that men were having sex with men a lot; more than anyone had guessed.

        So a good case could be made that the drought-ridden forest has always

        • by khallow (566160) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:21PM (#25223261)
          I disagree. There were significant changes in the 60's that you aren't getting. First, airline travel was more widespread in the 60's. Second, there were people having unprotected sex with dozens or hundreds of partners. Sure that was going on in the 50's, but by the 70's there was a lot more possibilities for HIV infection to propagate. Finally, heroin use grew dramatically as the Vietnam War dragged on, providing a more reliable means for HIV infection via used needles.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kurisuto (165784)

            Let me give an illustrative anecdote here. Not long ago, I came across the autobiography of a gay man who joined the U.S. Navy in the late 1940's. He recounted the large number of sexual adventures he had in Japan, Korea, Germany, Austria, Italy, and the United States. I doubt very much that his story is unique.

            It's true that air travel increased in the 1960's. It's probably also true that the average number sexual partners increased somewhat during that time (although people were also discuss sex more

        • by compro01 (777531)

          I personally think the key thing is transportation. Never before has large-scale transportation been practical as it is today. You can jump on a plane and be practically anywhere in the world within a few hours. This is a massive boon to any sort of infectious disease, be it AIDS, flu, or even the common cold.

          Another factor to consider is the population and relatedly, population density. Over the past century, and particularly over the past few decades, the population and the density of said population

      • Airlines, easy world-wide travel, creation of the Pill and unprotected sex, a government unwilling to stymie the flow and treatment of GRIDS (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome) (later known as AIDS), gay culture, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zironic (1112127)

      It wasn't any less deadly, it was just spread slower(because people with aids died faster and people lived less close together) and wasn't noticed(since it attacks the immune system it's always another disease that kills you)

    • What is so particularly different about HIV? It isn't the only pathogen out there that attacks the immune system. It's only real trick is that it isn't like some viruses, and doesn't kill within a few weeks, so it doesn't tend to burn itself out before it can spread.

      What makes it rather unique is that in an age where we have an enormous number of very effective drugs for many diseases, it is still is pretty resistant compared to, say, syphilis. Syphilis was for centuries a scourge every bit as bad as HIV

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      and then BLAMMO - instant deadliness

      among people western science cared about

    • Also AIDS changes often. There is more then one kind of HIV. There was a study (in New York I think) that showed gay men with HIV were only have sex with other HIV infected people and some of those men had multiple kinds of HIV.

      Could it be that what we now call HIV was something else and changed into HIV?

  • by Trikenstein (571493) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:43PM (#25222659)
    HIV = Tunguska event?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orclevegam (940336)

      HIV = Tunguska event?

      Although an interesting correlation (repeat old saw about correlation not equaling causation), I'm interested in how your "hypothesis" accounts for the HIV relatives in the simian population prior to that date, and also how this "space virus" managed to migrate from the Russian boondocks to the middle of Africa without apparently spreading through any of the intermediary countries.

      • by scorp1us (235526)

        Clearly, not a likely scenario, but indulging...

        The virus would not be viable at the near-impact site. It would have to be spread by the ejecta from the explosion, or a chunk that broke off and fell into the congo on its way to Russia. Given that it exploded before impact it is likely that internal pressures were causing debris to fall off all through the descent.

        Arriving in the Congo, which is home to Bonobos, the most human-like ape, it infected them, then moved out from there.

        • Wow, I didn't actually expect a response, let alone a well thought out and reasoned one. Ok, well, that's a plausible explanation for how the Tunguska impact could be tied to the spread of a virus in Africa, but still doesn't explain some of the HIV like viruses that pre-date the Tunguska event and are speculated to be the pre-cursor to HIV. Unfortunately at this point we run up against an extreme lack of information as even the link between the simian strains of immune viruses and HIV is tenuous at best.
        • by Dr. Spork (142693)
          The Congo really is pretty far from Eastern Siberia.
          • by scorp1us (235526)

            Not when you've just made a trip from the kuiper belt. Distance is relative. Perhaps it was not off the actual comet itself, but part of the comets tail which followed. And that does seem to make some sense, becuse the congo is west of siberia, the planet rotates east, so there would be a few minutes of lag needed to get to the congo west of the impact.

    • by mstahl (701501)

      Definitely an interesting thought, and there's been previous speculation about all viruses being space-borne. But if that were the case, why would it start out in the Congo rather than in Siberia?

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:54PM (#25222845)

    1908 also was the last time that the cubs won it all.

  • by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:05PM (#25223019)

    Happy 100th birthday, HIV!

  • Since AIDS/HIV isn't the direct cause of death, it seems highly likely that when infected individuals died in the late 1800's/early 1900's the cause of death would be attributed (correctly) to the obvious illness (flu, pneumonia, consumption, dysentery). I'm no medical historian, but I'm fairly certain that the means to "find" the AIDS/HIV were not available.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mortiss (812218)
      Agreed. Few facts: First virus discovered - 1899; Tobacco Mosaic Virus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus [wikipedia.org]
      First electron microscopes to observe virions: 1930's (same source).
      Hence it is entirely possible that HIV related deaths simply went unnoticed, plus the possibility that it was largely confined to the areas where humans had been in contact with apes and thus could become infected with the virus that was able to jump species (which would be a very rare event on its own anyway)
      • Not just that, I can imagine that the life expectancy in those areas was limited anyway, so you could die without knowing you ever had it or it ever really affecting you.
  • That age is in full agreement with the right wing creationists' "young earth" theory, so they can still use AIDS as "God's punishment" to the gay community. Has Sarah Palin brought this up on the campaign trail, yet? ;-)
  • Could someone please comment on whether it is more likely that the virus suddenly made the leap from primates to humans in the 1884-1924 range, or is it more likely that the virus slowly accumulated changes in its genetic code that allowed humans to become infected?

    Could it have been that prior to this 1884-1924, that the primate version of the virus would be able to infect humans, but our immune systems were able to clear it? Or maybe that it could infect us, but its progression was so slow, that it never

  • Doubtful... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moxley (895517) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:38PM (#25225887)

    I have seen way too much credible evidence that this disease was likely engineered to give creedence to this particular report - I've done quite a bit of reading about it on both sides of the issue and for now that is what I believe. I have put some links below the appropriations bill that cover some of the information, The records are there, and this appropriations bill is is just one of many, many things that seem to show this - including a flowchart that seems to show the development of AIDS as an engineered disease from 1971.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/3280929/Special-Virus-Program-AIDS-Flow-Chart-TOP-SECRET [scribd.com] (Flowchart of the "Special Virus Cancer Program")

    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS FOR 1970

    HEARINGS BEFORE A SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
    NINETY-FIRST CONGRESS
    FIRST SESSION
    SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS

    H.B. 15090

    PART 5
    RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, TEST, AND EVALUATION

    Department of the Army
    Statement of Director, Advanced Research Project Agency
    Statement of Director, Defense Research and Engineering

    Printed for the use of the Committee on Appropriations
    U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
    WASHINGTON : 1969
    UNITED STATES SENATE LIBRARY

    [pg.] 129 TUESDAY, JULY 1, 1969

    SYNTHETIC BIOLOGICAL AGENTS

    There are two things about the biological agent field I would like to mention. One is the possibility of technological surprise. Molecular biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly and eminent biologists believe that within a period of 5 to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired.
    MR. SIKES. Are we doing any work in that field?
    DR. MACARTHUR. We are not.
    MR. SIKES. Why not? Lack of money or lack of interest?
    DR. MACARTHUR. Certainly not lack of interest.
    MR. SIKES. Would you provide for our records information on what would be required, what the advantages of such a program would be, the time and the cost involved?
    DR. MACARTHUR. We will be very happy to.
    (The information follows:)

    The dramatic progress being made in the field of molecular biology led us to investigate the relevance of this field of science to biological warfare. A small group of experts considered this matter and provided the following observations:
    1. All biological agents up the the present time are representatives of naturally occurring disease, and are thus known by scientists throughout the world. They are easily available to qualified scientists for research, either for offensive or defensive purposes.
    2. Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.
    3. A research program to explore the feasibility of this could be completed in approximately 5 years at a total cost of $10 million.
    4. It would be very difficult to establish such a program. Molecular biology is a relatively new science. There are not many highly competent scientists in the field. Almost all are in university laboratories, and they are generally adequately supported from sources other than DOD. However, it was considered possible to initiate an adequate program through the National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council (NAS-NRC).
    The matter was discussed with the NAS-NRC, and tentative plans were plans were made to initiate the program. However decreasing funds in CB, growing criticism of the CB program, and our reluctance to involve the NAS-NRC in such a controversial endeavor have led us to postpone it for the past 2 years.

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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