Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Evidence of HIV from a cut hunter?

BBC NEWS | Health | Ape hunters pick up new viruses:
Two new viruses from the same family as HIV have been discovered in central Africans who hunt nonhuman primates.

Researchers say their work proves it is not unusual for potentially dangerous viruses to jump from primates to man.

They say it is important to monitor disease in bushmeat hunters closely, as any virus they contract from animals may spread to the community at large.

The study, led by the US Johns Hopkins University, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A while back, I weighed in on the theory that HIV's ancestor, SIV, was transmitted to humans via the Oral Polio Vaccine (at great length). The dominant hypothesis is that a hunter killed an infected chimp, and the hunter or a butcher cut himself when butchering the chimp, allowing the virus to spread. Then, through unsterile medical conditions, or conventional sexual pathways, the disease spread through the population.

This study shows that such natural transmissions are quite common. It doesn't prove that this is where AIDS originated, it just shows that it's very likely. The other thing has no actual evidence behind it, which doesn't mean it's wrong. But if you have to pick, choose the likely hypothesis over the unlikely one.

That's not a bad rule.

The probability that humans got infected with SIV through cut hunter mechanisms is near 1. The probability of the OPV transmitting SIV is, at best, low. New evidence may increase that probability, but it has yet to do so.