March 26, 2013

Q&A: Epidemiological Data on Origins of the HIV Virus

Since the original description in 1981 of an unusual cluster of cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Kaposi sarcoma in previously healthy men who have sex with men, substantial advances in our understanding of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been achieved.

This article is for Medical Students & Professionals
This is a Question & Answer revision article designed for medical students and professionals preparing for the PLAB, MRCP or USMLE examinations. They are based on actual questions from these examinations. You may find the HIV Disease article more useful, or one of our many articles on Diseases & Conditions, Medical Syndromes, Health & Wellness or Home Remedies.
In this article:
Advances in knowledge and containment of the HIV virus
MCQ exam: clinical scenario
MCQ exam: answer
MCQ exam: explanation

Advances in knowledge and containment of the HIV virus

Evidence that a retrovirus was associated with AIDS in 1984 and the development of a diagnostic serologic test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1985 have served as the basis for developing improvements in diagnosis.

In addition, therapy was dramatically altered with the introduction of antiretroviral drugs in 1987 and revolutionized by combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 1996. Despite the absence of a cure, the natural history of the disease was radically changed, and now, persons with HIV infection without other significant comorbidities who are treated before significant immunosuppression can expect a life expectancy approaching that of the general population.

MCQ exam: clinical scenario

Based on current epidemiological evidence, the HIV virus is believed to have originated from which of the following options:

a). Originated from insects in Brazil
b). Originated from mutations of a parent virus during tests conducted in Africa
c). Originated from a zoonotic infection of the virus in Africa
d). Originated from mutations of the parent virus within the homosexual community
e). Originated from the bite of chimpanzees in the Amazon

MCQ questions & answers on

MCQ exam: answer

The correct answer is C.

MCQ exam: explanation

The option C is the most correct response in the list above. Researchers believe that HIV was introduced into the human population when hunters became exposed to the infected blood of chimpanzees in Africa.

1). UpToDate: The natural history and clinical features of HIV infection in adults and adolescents. Available online:

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