Baltimore Sun Examines Research Linking HIV Transmission to Monkey Meat
The Baltimore Sun on Sunday examined research being conducted by a Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health team investigating the potential links between traditional practices for hunting monkeys and apes in west-central Africa and the cross-species viral transmission of diseases, including HIV. Local hunters have been recruited to participate in the project and are providing descriptions and blood samples of the animals they kill from which the researchers plan to develop "hunter monitoring networks," according to the Sun. The goal of the research team is "clear but not guaranteed of success: to spot emerging diseases and keep them from spreading around the world," the Sun reports. The increasing evidence of "virus hopping," has been discovered largely in Cameroon, the Sun reports. The Hopkins team, led by epidemiologist Nathan Wolfe, last year found that one in six people in Cameroon who were in regular contact with primate blood had been exposed to the simian strain of HIV. The findings are unsettling, Wolfe said, adding, "We don't know whether HIV is done emerging. It may be the case that novel forms of HIV continue to enter the population." According to the Sun, the researchers warn of the possibility of new types of "emerging HIV infections" as more guns and new logging roads bring people and other primates into closer contact. The Hopkins researchers also are teaching villagers how to protect themselves from viruses when handling monkey blood by washing and bandaging their hands before butchering if they have cuts, the Sun reports (Calvert, Baltimore Sun, 7/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.