man buys bush meat at a market in Yopougon, Abidjan May 27, 2006. [Researchers who picked up and analyzed wild chimp droppings said on Thursday they had shown how the AIDS virus originated in wild apes in Cameroon and then spread in humans across Africa and eventually the world. Their study, published in the journal Science, supports other studies that suggest people somehow caught the deadly human immunodeficiency virus from chimpanzees, perhaps by killing and eating them. Reuters/Luc Gnago

Well-known researcher Hoosen Coovadia has found Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) strains in India that are identical to the strains found in South Africa. The South African scientist, credited with leading breakthrough research in preventing mother to child HIV transmission, found out that the “C” sub-type of the virus is found both in South Africa and India.

According to The Hindu, Coovadia delivered a continuing medical education (CME) talk on “How HIV travelled from South Africa to India: a story of infectious diseases throughout the world and through time.” The scientist traced the migratory patterns between the two countries. According to him, migrants living in South Africa brought the deadly HIV to India.

Coovadia compared the virus to one found in chimpanzees in Cameroon. It’s the same virus in animal form. The human form virus is called HIV and the virus in chimpanzees is known as Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV).

Coovadia explained how humans contracted the deadly virus. He said African population regularly ate monkeys.

“When it was eaten half-cooked with blood, one of these SIVs probably may have mutated and entered human beings,” he said.

Tracking the virus spread, he explained that HIV can spread rapidly and it is possible that the virus came to Durban from Cameroon. Slowly it found its way to China and India. The deadly disease never affected people earlier and it made its presence known in the 20th century.

However, there is good news on the HIV vaccine front. The only vaccine that may have the potential to be used for treatment after getting licensed is being tested in South Africa. Prof. Glenda Gray, president of the SA Medical Research Council, said that in May, scientists will know if they can go ahead with the testing on 7,000 people.

The vaccine activates an infected person’s immune system to fight against the virus, writes Times Live. Currently it is being tested on 100 people. Prof. Gray said South African scientists have modified the vaccine and have made it more potent. Trial participants will also get an extra injection hoping the effects will last longer.