The study shows that the virus traveled from North America to Western Europe at different times.
SPAIN – A team of scientists at the European Society for Translational Antiviral Research has drawn the “propagation paths” experienced by the virus HIV worldwide after it came to the States in the early 70s, and points to tourism and trade as key factors.
The study suggests that the expansion of subtype B HIV-1, which is the most abundant virus strain in Europe, Australia and America, reflects the geopolitical events of the second half of the twentieth century.
Since the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) was discovered in the early eighties, the West has dominated the subtype B of the virus, which came to America from Africa via Haiti.
However, the pattern of the subsequent spread remains little known.
According to research published in the Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Evolutionary Genetics of Infectious Diseases, strains of Eastern Europe and Western did not mixed together until the fall of the Iron Curtain, when migration between the two regions was less restricted.
From the results of the study it indicates that factors such as international trade, tourism and migration have an important role in the spread of HIV worldwide.
The researchers analyzed nearly nine thousand genomes of strains of HIV-1 subtype B from 78 countries, with the aim to “map” its expansion in the world over the last 50 years.
For scientists, this research supports the theory that warns that to eradicate the disease will be necessary to intensify measures both locally and internationally.
According to researcher Roger Paredes, the Spanish Institute for AIDS Research IrsiCaixa, one of the participants in research, these results demonstrate once again that epidemics have “no borders”.
He added that if we want to end AIDS also need to act on a global scale, especially in low-income countries where most infected people live with HIV and where currently drug-resistant virus is being transmitted.
The study also shows that the virus traveled from North America to Western Europe at different times, while Central and Eastern Europe remained isolated for most of the beginning of the epidemic.
Overall, the work shows great interconnection between European countries; Portugal, Spain and Germany have a large number of exchanges with other countries, possibly caused by factors such as tourism and the high number of infections among its population.