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nine year old wants to know how HIV started.
Jan 2, 2001

I have a nine (9) year old son who has just asked me how did HIV start. My answer must not have answered what he wants to know. Could you please send me information that will help me to explain this to him?

Response from Dr. Dieterich

This is not an easy one to answer in 25 words or less and there is still some controversy about it. However the basic idea is that HIV is a zoönosis, that is an animal disease that passed into humans. Probably in Africa a virus called SIV or simian (meaning monkey)immunodeficiency virus got into a human hunter of monkeys. Or perhaps someone who was cleaning a monkey body getting ready to cook it cut themselves with a knife and got monkey blood into their blood stream. This probably happened in the early part of the 20th century exactly when is controversial, but the RNA (like DNA for viruses) evidence for this is quite strong. The virus then multiplied and was transmitted sexually between people and from mothers to infants. It probably spread then to Haiti and then to New York, San Francisco and Paris and then the rest of the world. DTD



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