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Scientists join forces to explain HIV spread in Central and East Africa
Date:9/29/2009

n people in India are HIV-positive. In Eastern Europe, HIV infections more than doubled from 420,000 in 1998 to 1 million in 2001.

"If we can predict the specific routes of an epidemic, we can find the geographic regions more at risk and target these areas with medical intervention and strategies for prevention," Salemi said. "In terms of health-care applications, coupling genetic analysis with geographic information systems can give us a powerful tool to understand the spread of pathogens and contain emerging epidemics."

Working with Maureen M. Goodenow, Ph.D., the Stephany W. Holloway university chair for AIDS research at the UF College of Medicine, UF researchers collaborated with an array of scientists hailing from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Rakai Health Sciences Program and Makerere University of Uganda, and the Johns Hopkins University. They refer to the combination of techniques that led to the discovery as "landscape phylodynamics."

"It is the first study that has given us a clear picture of epidemic history of HIV in east Africa, including the geographic routes and the time scale that it occurred," said Oliver Pybus, Ph.D., a researcher in the department of zoology at Oxford University who did not participate in the study. "Genetic analysis of the HIV genome provides the family tree of the virus, combined with spatial analysis of high-resolution data of land use, topology and other factors. There is a huge potential in doing that kind of analysis, but it requires a rare combination of specialists in different fields to come together."


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Contact: John Pastor
jdpastor@ufl.edu
352-273-5815
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert  

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