HTLV and HIV molecular epidemiology: dating their zoonotic origin

Poster number: 0

Anne-Mieke Vandamme

  1. Rega Institute for Medical Research, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Both for HTLV and HIV a combination of phylogenetic, molecular clock and population dynamics analyses were used to construct and test hypotheses about viral epidemics. The time frame for the zo÷notic transmissions at the origin of both groups of viruses could be set at several times over a period of thousands of years for HTLV, and several times over a period of hundreds of years for HIV. Some of the population expansions of those viruses were related to historical events in its human host, such as the migrations out of Africa, Bering strait migrations into the Americas, slave trades, independence wars in the colonies, the introduction of needle sharing in drug users. To obtain those results we needed to improve dating and coalescent based techniques by accommodating for confounding factors. Our results suggest that zo÷notic transmissions of simian retroviruses to humans are not so exceptional. However, it seems that epidemic spread of those viruses have each time been associated with major social changes in humans.