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University of Arizona study helps prove how HIV came to the US

(AP Photo)

One man was long blamed for bringing the HIV virus to the United States, and he was ultimately classified as “Patient Zero.”

Thanks in part to a University of Arizona study, Patient Zero’s name is cleared, and it is now definitively clear what the route was that led HIV coming into the country in the first place.

According to BuzzFeed News, Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, was the lead author of the study titled “1970s and ‘Patient 0’ HIV-1 genomes illuminate early HIV/AIDS history in North America.” The study was published in Nature.

Using at least eight viral strains carried by people with the virus, the team was able to pinpoint that HIV began in Africa in the early 1900s before moving onto the Caribbean by 1967. It was then in New York City by 1971 before reaching San Francisco by 1976.

Although it isn’t clear exactly how the virus traveled from the Caribbean to the U.S., it does rule out any possibility that Patient Zero, also known as Gaëtan Dugas, is to blame for bringing it into the United States, as many people had accused him of doing so for years.

Because of the study, it is clear someone else brought it to the country because Dugas hadn’t got the virus until nine years after HIV got to New York City.

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