Monday, September 15, 2008

Romans May Have Hurt Medical Geography of AIDS, and Helped Against the Black Death

French scientists have discovered proof of what they believe shows the Roman Empire's impact on the spread of AIDS. The researchers believe the Romans carried a disease which in part killed large numbers of people who had genes which protect against AIDS. People with the gene trait are found more in regions where the Empire had no or very limited presence in Europe.

British researchers fired back saying the Empire's spread protected against Black Death. In parts of the Empire's core the Black Death killed rate was 1 in 20,000 while in never-Roman Northern Europe the rate shot up to 1 in 10.

Regardless of the Empire's impact on AIDS the dreaded disease is most prominent in sub-Saharan Africa, a place the Romans would only know myths about.


Dan tdaxp said...


Re: AIDS, Europeans in general are more protected against it than Africans, so presumably the Roman Empire's effect there was to introduce the African alleles into an already 'cleared' northern-European population.

The original defense may have come about if something similar to AIDS struck Europe, say, 3,000 years ago, killing off most of those who were easily susceptible.

Charlene said...

No, no, no: those percentages are not the Black Death killed rate! They're the percentages of people who now carry the protective gene!

In no area affected by the plague was the death rate anywhere as low as one in ten, let alone one in 20,000. Even in the most lightly affected areas three in ten people died. In Italy it was one in two. One third of the population of Europe died.