Caribbean

As mentioned in the previous post [1], the Patient Zero meme instigated by the findings of Worebey et al cascaded through the general, medical, and scientific media alike.  An editorial published in Trends in Microbiology, Patient 0’ and the Origin of HIV/AIDS in America [2], praised the work of Worobey et al for dispelling the Patient Zero myth [3].  Worobey also concluded that HIV migrated to the USA from Africa via Haiti [3].

Haiti got all the press, but 5 years into the AIDS epidemic (1986), Bermuda that had the highest AIDS rate in the world, as seen in Table 1.

 

Table 1:          AIDS Prevalence in United States and Caribbean – September 1986

Country

Prevalence

(cases per 100,000)

Reported AIDS cases

Population

Bermuda

76.3

42

55,000

Bahamas

30.5

68

223,000

United States

10.3

24,169

234,249,000

Trinidad/Tobago

9.4

108

1,149,000

Haiti

8.8

501

5,690,000

 

Nevertheless,the Trends in Microbiology editorial supported the Africa-Haiti origin concept by listing three “plausible scenarios” for HIV transmission from Haiti to the USA.  My full response, below, describes the epidemiological winds that blow HIV from the United States towards the Caribbean (excluding Cuba because American travelers and tourists were embargoed).

Continue reading

Patient Zero did not introduce HIV into the United States!

Not too long ago, this story was a meme cascading through the media. All emanating from a phylogenetic analysis published in Nature, 1970s and ‘Patient 0’ HIV-1 genomes illuminate early HIV/AIDS history in North America [1].

The authors of this phylogenetic analysis (Worobey et al) also concluded that HIV migrated to the USA from Africa via Haiti. However, extensive epidemiological evidence suggests the Africa-Haiti-USA historical narrative is just as incorrect as the narrative regarding Patient Zero.

Stuart Derbyshire and I wrote a Letter to the Editors of Nature in response to conclusions of Worobey et al. At the kind invitation of the Editors, our response is posted on the Nature website. Given the allowance of 300 words and 3 references, the response cites a limited portion of available epidemiological data refuting this concept. Alternately, the response containing the full complement of 13 references is posted below.

Continue reading

Subscribe to Blog Posts

Chris Jennings' Books