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Did HIV and HTLV Originate in Africa?

Edward Tabor, MD; Robert J. Gerety, MD, PhD; James Cairns, FRCS Ed; Anne C. Bayley, FRCS
JAMA. 1990;264(6):691-692. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450060037012.
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To the Editor.—  It has been suggested that the worldwide epidemics of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) could have originated in Africa1,2 and that HTLV-I was carried to the endemic region in southern Japan from Africa in the 16th century.2 However, few serological studies of stored serum samples have been conducted to evaluate these suggestions. We conducted a study to determine whether antibodies to HIV-1 (anti-HIV-1) or HTLV-I (anti-HTLV-I) were present in Zambia before (in 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979) and at the beginning (in 1981) of the recognized worldwide epidemics of these viruses.

Study.—  Three hundred forty-nine serum samples, stored at—20°C, were obtained from 226 apparently healthy villagers (from five rural villages located 500 km east of Lusaka; preinoculation samples in a hepatitis B vaccine trial in 1981)3,4 and from 123 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who


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