The Ghost of King Leopold II Still Haunts Us

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Belgium Colonization and the Ignition of the HIV Global Pandemic

by Dr. Lawrence Brown

In an article entitled “The Early Spread and Epidemic Ignition of HIV-1 in Human Populations,” in the magazine Science in October 2014, Nuno Faria and his fellow researchers revealed the location of ground zero for one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases—HIV. They discovered that HIV-1 originated in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and explain that the deadly virus spread throughout the Congo via the railroad network. HIV-1 was subsequently transmitted by Haitian professionals back to Haiti and then to the United States (1).

Faria and colleagues presented their research findings as follows:

Our estimated location of pandemic origin explains the observation that Kinshasa exhibits more contemporary HIV-1 genetic diversity than anywhere else. It clarifies why the oldest known HIV-1 sequences were sourced from this…

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