Medical microbiology and immunology 2017 04 22206(4) 287-293 doi 10.1007/s00430-017-0505-2
Transmission of infectious agents might be associated with iatrogenic actions of charitable help in health care. An example is the vaccination against yellow fever in USA that transmitted hepatitis B virus. Another example is injections of praziquantel for treatment and cure of schistosomiasis in Central and Northern Africa, with a focus in Egypt that has spread hepatitis C virus. There is no indication that human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 was spread by injection treatment for African trypanosomiasis, syphilis and treponematosis, but these treatments might have contributed to the early spread of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in Central Africa. Slave trade contributed as well to the spread of viruses from Africa to the Americas; it was stopped in 1850. Until that date HIV-1 was not transported to the Americas. By analysis of nucleic acid sequence data it can be concluded that the continental spread of HCV and HIV-1 might have started around 1920 with an exponential phase from 1940 to 1970. Further iatrogenic actions that promoted the spread of HCV and HIV-1 might be vaccinations to prevent deadly diseases. The successful vaccination was followed by diminution of the infectious agent in the population such as small pox, yellow fever and measles. Measurements to reduce the spread of plague and cholera were further benefits increasing survival of diseased subjects in a population. Thus, the reduction of exposure to deadly infectious agents might have given a chance to HIV-1 infected subjects to survive and for HIV-1 to be distributed around the world starting from Central Africa in the 1950s.