AIDS is caused by a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which originated in non-human primates in Central and West Africa.
While various sub-groups of the virus acquired human infectivity at different times, the global pandemic had its origins in the emergence of one specific strain – HIV-1 subgroup M – in Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo (now Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in the 1920s.
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The pandemic HIV-1 strain (group M or Main) and a rare strain found only in a few Cameroonian people (group N) are clearly derived from SIVcpz strains endemic in Pan troglodytes troglodytes chimpanzee populations living in Cameroon.