According to an international team of scientists said, the origin of the AIDS pandemic has been traced to the 1920s in the city of Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
They say a “perfect storm” of population growth, s** and railways allowed HIV to spread.
A feat of viral archaeology was used to find the pandemic’s origin, the team report in the journal Science.
They used archived samples of HIV’s genetic code to trace its source, with evidence pointing to 1920s Kinshasa.
Their report says a roaring s** trade, rapid population growth and unsterilized needles used in health clinics probably spread the virus.
Meanwhile Belgium-backed railways had one million people flowing through the city each year, taking the virus to neighboring regions.
Experts said it was a fascinating insight into the start of the pandemic.
The origin of the AIDS pandemic has been traced to the 1920s in the city of Kinshasa
HIV came to global attention in the 1980s and has infected nearly 75 million people.
It has a much longer history in Africa, but where the pandemic started has remained the source of considerable debate.
A team at the University of Oxford and the University of Leuven, in Belgium, tried to reconstruct HIV’s “family tree” and find out where its oldest ancestors came from.
The research group analyzed mutations in HIV’s genetic code.
By reading those mutational marks, the research team rebuilt the family tree and traced its roots.
HIV is a mutated version of a chimpanzee virus, known as simian immunodeficiency virus, which probably made the species-jump through contact with infected blood while handling bush meat.
The virus made the jump on multiple occasions. One event led to HIV-1 subgroup O which affects tens of thousands in Cameroon.
Yet only one cross-species jump, HIV-1 subgroup M, went on to infect millions of people across every country in the world.
The answer to why this happened lies in the era of black and white film and the tail-end of the European empires.
In the 1920s, Kinshasa (called Leopoldville until 1966) was part of the Belgian Congo.
Large numbers of male laborers were drawn to the city, distorting the gender balance until men outnumbered women two to one, eventually leading to a roaring s** trade.
Around one million people were using Kinshasa’s railways by the end of the 1940s.
The virus spread, with neighboring Brazzaville and the mining province, Katanga, rapidly hit.
Those “perfect storm” conditions lasted just a few decades in Kinshasa, but by the time they ended the virus was already starting to spread around the world.
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Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed two Ebola deaths in the country’s north-west.
They are the first reported Ebola cases outside West Africa since the outbreak there began, although it is not clear if they are directly linked to that outbreak.
So far 1,427 people have died from the Ebola virus.
The speed and extent of the outbreak has been “unprecedented”, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
An estimated 2,615 people in West Africa have been infected with Ebola since March.
There is no known cure but some affected people have recovered after being given an experimental drug, ZMapp. However, supplies are now exhausted.
Also on Sunday, a British health worker infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone was flown back to the UK on an RAF jet. It is the first confirmed case of a Briton contracting the virus during the current outbreak.
Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed two Ebola deaths in the country’s north-west
Several people died in the past month after contracting an unidentified fever in the Equateur region of the DR Congo.
On Sunday, Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said two of eight fever victims had tested positive for Ebola.
A quarantine zone would be set up in a 62-mile radius in Boende where the cases had been registered.
He said this marked the seventh outbreak in DRC. The virus was first identified here in 1976 near the Ebola River.
Felix Kabange Numbi added that further tests were being carried out.
On Saturday, Sierra Leone parliament passed a new law making it a criminal offence to hide Ebola patients.
If approved by the president, those caught face up to two years in prison.
The move came after the Ivory Coast closed its land borders to prevent the spread of Ebola on to its territory.
The country has already imposed a ban on flights to and from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Gabon, Senegal, Cameroon and South Africa have taken similar measures.
The WHO says travel bans do not work, and that what is needed is more doctors and officials to help trace those infected with Ebola, as well as more mobile laboratories.
The Ebola virus is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bloodily fluids. It is one of the world’s deadliest diseases, with up to 90% of cases resulting in death.
Angelina Jolie was spotted without her engagement ring as she arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda with British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Sunday night.
Instead Angelina Jolie, 37, wore a more modest gold band on her wedding finger.
Angelina Jolie was spotted without her engagement ring as she arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda with British Foreign Secretary William Hague
While there is no news that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have in fact already tied the knot, it appears that she had merely exchanged the jewellery for her official UN work duties.
In fact Angelina Jolie had completely pared back her look for her arrival, wearing a very plain black suit and billowing black T-shirt.
The actress accessorized the conservative look with some leather loafers and several other pieces of simple gold jewellery.
She also wore her hair tied back into a basic ponytail.
According to USA Today, Angelina Jolie is in the African country acting as a representative for the UN’s refugee agency.
Fighters from the M23 rebel group say they have captured Goma, the main city in resource-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The rebels exchange some small-arms fire with the army but they otherwise met little resistance.
UN peacekeepers watched as rebels marched past their vehicles, he adds.
President Joseph Kabila, who flew to Uganda for talks, called on people to “resist” the rebels.
Aid agencies say tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the last five days as conflict escalated.
One camp near Goma, where about 60,000 people from previous conflicts were taking refuge, has emptied as people flee, the agencies report.
This is the first time since the war officially ended in 2003 that rebels have entered Goma, which has a population of about 400,000.
Some five million people died in the war, which dragged in neighboring states – including Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.
In a television broadcast, Joseph Kabila called on people to defend the country, AFP news agency reports.
“DR Congo is today confronted with a difficult situation. When a war is imposed, one has an obligation to resist,” he is quoted as saying.
“I ask that the entire population defend our sovereignty.”
He later flew to Uganda to discuss the conflict with his Ugandan counterpart President Yoweri Museveni.
Fighters from the M23 rebel group say they have captured Goma, the main city in resource-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
Rwanda has denied persistent accusations that it backs the M23 rebels.
On Monday, it accused the Congolese army of deliberately firing across the border onto its territory.
The commander of United Nations peacekeepers in DR Congo, Lt-Gen Chandar Prakash, said the rebels had tried to attack his forces at the airport, but had been repelled.
Some rebels had used the cover of civilian houses to bypass the UN base there and enter the town, he said.
Government forces are no longer at Goma’s airport, but UN forces are still there.
The UN force has not tried to resist the rebel advance, and watched as about a dozen rebels marched past their armored vehicles.
He says the rebels have gone through Goma and have reached the border with Rwanda.
“The town of Goma fell at 11:33 local time [08.33GMT], despite the attack helicopters, despite the heavy weapons, the FARDC [Congolese army] has let the town fall into our hands,” M23 spokesman Colonel Vianney Kazarama told Reuters news agency.
German newspaper Tageszeitung‘s reporter in Goma, Simone Schlindwein, said she saw the bodies of 10 government soldiers lying in a pool of blood.
Residents told her there were many more corpses on side streets and in nearby fields.
Staff at the main hospital in Goma reported that one civilian had died and 90 had been wounded after being caught in the crossfire, Simone Schlindwein said.
Government forces had looted homes in Goma and were now retreating towards South Kivu province, she added.
Various rebels groups have been active in mineral-rich eastern DR Congo since the end of the war in 2003.
The latest conflict broke out after a mutiny in the army in April, when a group of former rebels formed the M23, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army.
About 500,000 people have fled the fighting since then.
The M23 is largely made up of ethnic Tutsis, the same group which dominates the government in Rwanda.
The UN has about 22,000 peacekeepers in DR Congo.
Who are the M23 rebels?
- Named after the 23 March 2009 peace accord which they accuse the government of violating
- This deal saw them join the army before they took up arms once more in April 2012
- Also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army
- Mostly from minority Tutsi ethnic group
- Deny being backed by Rwanda and Uganda
- Believed to have 1,200 to 6,000 fighters
- International Criminal Court indicted top commander Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda in 2006 for allegedly recruiting child soldiers
- The UN and US imposed a travel ban and asset freeze earlier this month on the group’s leader, Sultani Makenga
An outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has now killed 31 people and could threaten major towns, the World Health Organization has warned.
An epidemic was officially declared on 17 August in the northwestern Orientale Province.
WHO official Eugene Kabambi told Reuters that the situation was “very serious” and was “not under control”.
An outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has now killed 31 people and could threaten major towns
Ebola is highly contagious and kills up to 90% of people infected.
There is no known treatment or vaccine for the disease, which is spread by close personal contact and causes massive internal bleeding.
The death toll from this latest outbreak, centred on the towns of Isoro and Viadana, has more than doubled over the course of a week to 31.
Up to five health workers are thought to be among the dead.
“The epidemic is not under control. On the contrary the situation is very, very serious,” Eugene Kabambi warned, speaking in DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa.
“If nothing is done now, the disease will reach other places, and even major towns will be threatened,” he said.
Last month an outbreak of a more deadly Ebola strain in neighboring Uganda killed 16 people, but health workers say the two outbreaks do not appear to be related.