AIDS: Ground Zero

Photographs by Alvaro Canovas

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The Origin Of AIDS, In The Heart Of The Cameroonian Equatorial Forest

The birthplace of the the killer virus has been discovered deep inside Cameroon’s south east equatorial forest, a region that was, at the beginning of the 20th century, French Equatorial Africa.

From genetic analysis of tens of thousands of apes’ faeces, a Franco-Cameroon scientific team was able to create a genetic-map of the virus and then identify when and exactly where, the HIV virus was transmitted from animal to human.

It has now been proved that just one transmission from a chimpanzee to a Bantu, probably from the consumption of it’s meat around 1920 is responsible of 95% of the 75 million people infected by AIDS and the death of 35 million of them.

The most trusted scenario is that between 1908 and 1920 a Pygmy hunter trapped and killed a chimpanzee of the Pan Troglodytes Troglodytes family, in the forest near the village of Mambéléneat the Congo border. The pigmies are fantastic hunters, they are the first inhabitants of the forests of central Africa, but they are poor business men so they sold this Ape to a Bantu who skinned it in order to smoke it. And that is by this action that this man contracted the virus.

In the 1920’s the trade of elephant tusk from the equatorial forest down south to Léopoldville now Kinshasa was very important, and it is by following this route with his load of smoked meat that this man arrives in the major city of central Africa also carrying the desease.