Where did AIDS / HIV come from?

My colleagues and I were having a discussion about this in the office today, and I realised that I had no idea how the whole epidemic started. How does an entirely new disease just spring out of nowhere? Did it mutate from an earlier, harmless form of the virus? Most interestingly, was there ever a “patient zero”?

Please fight my ignorance…

It probably came from SIV - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simian_immunodeficiency_virus

My mom has my copy of And the Band Played On, but I vaguely remember that HIV was connected with animal researchers in Africa, one of whom became infected. (Not from having intercourse with the animals, for heaven’s sake.)

As for Patient Zero, a flight attendant by the name of Gaetan Dugas was, if not the first Northern Hemisphere HIV carrier, at least a huge vector in its transmission. Again I say, my recollection is blurry at best, but someone else can probably go from there.

Andy Dick - Who’s life goal is to give AIDS back to the monkeys.