The beginning of the AIDS epidemic in America was believed to have started in the 1980s, spread by a flight attendant by the name of Gaetan Dugas. But a recent finding in genes attained from blood samples that were stored, reveals the U.S AIDS epidemic began in the 1970s in New York.
Scientists long speculated HIV had circulated for a decades in the U.S prior to the first couple of AIDS cases were established in Los Angeles California back in 1981. New genetic proof has just been published in the journal Nature confirming what scientists had long believed.
An evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona by the name of Michael Worobey said that all he and his colleague did was find where the initial cases of the virus were first reported.
Worobey and his colleague were able to put together a whole genetic sequence from the HIV virus in several stored blood sample which were obtained in 1978 and 1979 from a study done to gay and bisexual men with hepatitis B.
The group of scientists were able to link genetic changes in samples obtained from patients of the masculine gender in New York and California. Around 1970, the HIV virus hit New York, commencing the Northern American epidemic, but not before hitting the Caribbean first.
The group of scientists used the same identical procudure to remove the entire genetic code from Gaetan Dugas, the flight attendant.
Dugas was depicted in a book by the name of “And the Band Played On” as being the person responsible for spreading the HIV virus. But with the new findings there is no organic evidence that says Dugas was in fact the cause of the HIV epidemic in Northern America.
Richard McKay, a medical historian stated that Gaetan Dugas “was simply one of thousands infected before HIV was recognized.”
With the genetic code established, the group of scientists observed how the virus mutated and replicated itself allowing scientists to put in a place an HIV family tree.
Worobey believes the virus jumped from Haiti to New York around 1970 to 1971. And because the virus had not been identified in those years it spread tremendously before it was noticed.
“Outbreaks in California that first caused people to ring the alarm bells and led to the discovery of AIDS were really just offshoots of the earlier outbreak in New York,” stated Worobey.