Europe's HIV followed holiday routes - by Ewen Callaway
HIV's European tour may have begun in the Mediterranean. A new genetic map plotted from viruses in hundreds of people suggests that many European strains of HIV trace their ancestry to Greece, Portugal, Serbia and Spain. Sun-seeking tourists from northern and central Europe might account for the pattern, the study's authors say. The vast majority of the study's participants said they acquired their infections in their home country, so the patterns could be a vestige of HIV's emergence and early spread through Europe in the early 1980s, probably after arriving from the US.
That's not certain, though, and the patterns could also be a result of more recent transmissions, says Dimitrios Paraskevis, a virologist at the University of Athens, Greece, who led the study of viruses from 16 European countries and Israel. The story is unclear because his team's analysis was not designed to pin a date to the spread of HIV through Europe.