New research suggests that people of African descent are much more likely to have a genetic trait that makes them more susceptible to infection with the HIV virus.
Scientists estimate that the trait -- which also provides protection against a form of malaria -- might account for 11 percent of the HIV cases in Africa, the continent hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic.
Overall, the finding shows how the past history of evolution and disease still affects people today, said study co-author Matthew J. Dolan, of the Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center and San Antonio Military Medical Center. "The benefit that the Africans got from a mutation that gave them some resistance to malaria has, statistically at least, rendered them some increased susceptibility to HIV," he said.
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