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International Journal Volume 2 No.2

The Origin of HIV/AIDS: No other disease has ever threatened the imagination of the world as much as HIV and AIDS have done: The following are often asked:
 Where did AIDS come from?
 Is it a new or an old disease?
 Where did HIV originate?
These are difficult questions and one may never find out the answer. According to Schoub (1999:13), little is known about the origins of any human virus, let alone HIV. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome [AIDS) is unarguably one of the world‘s most deadly diseases. Mcsweeney (1995) described it as the greatest scourge of modern times. AIDS was first discovered in 1981 in the United States of America [USA) among homosexual men who were found to be affected with a strange disease that is associated with rapid weight loss for no apparent reason (Achalu 1996, Egbuonu 1997, Unachukwu 2003). It has also been argued that AIDS appears to have had its origin in central Africa as early as the 1950s. The isolation from African green monkeys of the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus [SIV) which is related to HIV-1 and HIV-2, the strains that primarily cause AIDS [Prescott, Harley and Klein 1999) could be used to support this claim. Initially, scientist and doctors were baffled because the causes and modes of transmission of this new disease (called slim disease in Africa) could not be immediately identified. Only in 1983 was it discovered that the disease was caused by a virus known at that stage as LAV (lymphadenopathy –associated virus) and HTLV-III (human T cell lymphotropic virus type III). In May 1986 the virus was renamed HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) (Dyk 2005)

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