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Being a microbiologist-in-training, I can say that we don't know enough TODAY about viruses or the immune system (the target of the HIV virus) to successfully engineer a novel virus like HIV. We might be able to do something in 20 years when we get sufficiently good protein/enzyme modelling systems for computers. But to engineer a virus 25 years ago, when HIV first appeared, is practically impossible.

HIV is notable because it is a retrovirus (it does NOT use DNA as its genetic material). As far as I know, HIV was the first such retrovirus we ever found (there are a few others out there). The retrovirus uses a totally unique enzyme (reverse transcriptase) which translates its genetic material (RNA) into DNA that can be used to take over the cell. Now, I can't possibly imagine even the most brilliant molecular biologist coming up with such a unique and complex an enzyme as reverse transcriptase, even today. Today, we cannot even predict the structure of proteins, let alone their function, without painstaking scientific analysis.
Are hanta and ebola retroviruses also? Do you think, concerning AIDS, that a small part or parts of the virus were formed, maybe not even for the same project--not even for warfare maybe--and a mishap caused it? I certainly believe that the smartest man is capable of such slovenly stupidity.
Strangely enough, both Ebola and Hanta are RNA viruses (though neither is officially called a retrovirus - I'm not sure why that is - I'll have to look into it).
I read somewhere that HIV is highly related to SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) -- which is present in monkeys. I've read several times in various places that the most plausible theory is that an HIV progenitor just recently jumped the species barrier between monkeys and humans, which accounts for its abrupt "emergence".

I am; therefore I think.
Just a note...
reverse transcriptase is not limited to HIV, and it has been successfully synthesized in labs.
Yes, reverse transcriptase is common to all retroviruses.

And yes, it can be "synthesized in labs". But to do this, you either need a bacteria with the reverse transcriptase gene OR an in vitro translation system with the same gene. In any case, you need the gene before you can do anything.

Reverse transcriptase is actually a useful laboratory enzyme. It is very widely used to convert unstable mRNA molecules (basically copies of DNA that code for proteins) into stable cDNA. This is wonderful, because mRNA is highly unstable, and according to anyone who has tried, it is an absolute b*tch to isolate. This provides the researcher a picture of what proteins a given cell is producing at a given time.
Yes, Boris,

As usual, although we were warned against such acts, and as much as we might deny the truth and consequences, humans first contracted this horrific and fatal virus by engaging in intercourse with monkeys.

When will we ever learn?

ROFLMAO! Are you serious??? Intercourse with <u>monkeys</u>?! Good grief... (it's like intercourse with hampsters, for crying out loud!)

The more likely scenarios would be consumption of poorly cooked or raw monkey flesh, or bites.
Get the duct tape! :)

The Belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it
seems to me the depest root of all evil that is in the world
-Max Born
Yeah, Boris... I'm serious. I read that in a number of sources in the 80's when HIV was first isolated in the U.S.. Even among monkeys, the disease is spread through sexual intercourse. Given the working conditions of many of the males in that area of Africa (away from home for months at a time, venturing into remote locations) and, given the fact that homosexuality in that area is considered much more taboo than it is in these United States and, since at that time, there were no if's and's or but's about the reports which I read... I would venture to say that today's "most likely" scenarios seem to be a way of avoiding the subject for a country that has since suffered so much as the result of HIV and AIDS.

[This message has been edited by truestory (edited November 03, 1999).]
Oh those perverted Africans.

I hope you realise that ideas along this line are as elitist and silly as saying HIV was introduced to America by those sick ungodly homosexuals. Jesus, if the whole world had Christian values, none of this depravity would have happened!

I don't think the method of transmission is terribly important, especially since there's NO evidence whatsoever supporting any given scenario.

On a more [cough] practical note... I'm not sure how sedate the monkeys are in Africa... but there's a reason animals are domesticated... wild animals tend to not be terribly, umm, friendly.
Here are some other theories regarding the transfer of SIV to humans:


Scientists believe the AIDS epidemic, which has stricken 33 million people worldwide, began after SIV jumped the species barrier to human beings in western central Africa. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says it probably occurred during the slaughter of chimpanzees as early as the 1930s.

Recently, however, the polio vaccine theory has been thrown back into the spotlight by a new book by British journalist Edward Hooper, whose research suggests that vaccine batches may been made from chimp kidneys and tainted with SIV.

[This message has been edited by DaveW (edited November 08, 1999).]
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