Study traces HIV to 1920s Kinshasa

A new study published in the Journal of Science claims that HIV began in Kinshasa in 1920 although it first came to global attention in 1980. Using archives of the genetic code material for HIV, researchers say they found out that the virus is a mutation of simian immunodeficiency virus found in chimpanzees. The researchers think this probably entered the human species through infected blood from bush meat.

A new study published in the Journal of Science claims that HIV began in Kinshasa in 1920 although it first came to global attention in 1980. Using archives of the genetic code material for HIV, researchers say they found out that the virus is a mutation of simian immunodeficiency virus found in chimpanzees. The researchers think this probably entered the human species through infected blood from bush meat.

The report then tracks the spread of the disease to a rapid population expansion, a booming sex trade and unsterilised needles used in health clinics in DR Congo, then Zaire.

Oliver Pybus, one of the authors of the study,  said over a million people were using Kinshasa’s railways by the end of 1940, allowing the disease to spread rapidly. Apologists will no doubt say this is one of the apex of racist innuendos.

In the health campaign zone, a drive to sensitise the public about the health benefits of consuming iron-rich beans was launched in Nyanza District.

The two-week campaign aims to create awareness targets 30,000 individuals in five districts. They include Nyanza, Rusizi, Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Kirehe.

With a baseline survey conducted by the organization revealing that 33 per cent of Rwandans are iron-deficient, 10 varieties of bio-fortified beans were bred for high, low and mid-altitude regions.

The organisers of the campaign are using local artistes to reach out to the public. A song featuring the artistes will be used to deliver the campaign’s message.

Beans remain one of the most consumed staple crops in Rwanda. However, according to experts, the high iron bean varieties have more than 40 per cent of iron content, far more than the traditional beans. They also have higher zinc content and are disease resistant.

Over 700, 000 households across the country are already growing the improved bean varieties.

The official said the bio-fortified varieties are available on the local market, mainly through a network of agro-dealers across the country and a kilogramme currently goes for Rwf500.

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