Monday, 8 March 2010

Did HIV has its roots in India?

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 8: The deadly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has its roots in India, according to researchers at the University of Hyderabad and Kakatiya University.
Contrary to popular belief that HIV, the infectious agent of AIDS, had originated in sub-Saharan Africa, the new study points out that the virus had its roots on the Indian soil in pre-historic times. The researchers, M Radhakrishna of HCU, and S Ram Reddy of Kakatiya University, observe that Charaka Samhita (ancient Ayurvedic text dating back to 300 BC) contains reference to an immunodeficiency problem similar to HIV.
"Medical, archaeological, mythological and biological evidences point out the possibility of origin of AIDS in Indian sub-continent. The man and monkey association started in India by Paleolithic period. We can find monkey paintings in various historic sites and ancient Indian literature... Many sculptures from 300 BC to 12th century CE depicted the monkey-man association. It is also depicted that the monkeys are giving medicine to the king that strengthens monkey-man association from many thousand years," the researchers said.
Caraka Samhita contains references to "azokshyam" (degradation of immunity) an AIDS-like disease. Many of the archaeological sites of period between 3000 BC to 1000 in India were displaced due to various viral diseases. Archaeological reports reveal that massive deaths occurred in those areas.
"The consumption of primate meat by certain tribal and non tribal communities is still prevalent in north east and eastern India. The use of meat from hunted primates as a bait to agricultural pests is also common in the north eastern states. A few of these Indian monkeys were found to be serologically and virologically positive to simian retroviruses," they pointed out.
According to them, Assamese macaque and pigtailed macaque harboured simian foamy virus. Natural infection by simian retrovirus in languor (Semnopithecus entellus) has been traced in two different geographical regions of India.
"Analysis of HIV-1 subtype C and HIV 2 genome sequences from India showed that these sequences were closely related to each other and phylogenetic (evolutionary) analysis of these sequences clustered together and showed monophyletic (common) lineage. Origin of AIDS in Indian peninsular should be investigated for simian immunodeficiency virus in wild monkeys of India," they said.

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