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HIV may date back to 19th century

Researchers have pushed back the origin of the AIDS virus to as early as 1884.

A report in tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature says genetic analysis estimates that HIV arose between 1884 and 1924, with a more focused estimate at 1908. The previous estimation was around 1930.

Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, an author of the new report, says the new result is "not a monumental shift, but it means the virus was circulating under" the radar even longer than was known.

Scientists say the new time frame corresponds with the growth of cities in Africa, where the virus jumped from chimpanzees to humans. Researchers say cities put lots of people close together, and promoted prostitution.

AIDS wasn't recognized formally until 1981.

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