Where Did STDs Originate?

Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, have been around for centuries. Syphilis and gonorrhea have been documented since the medieval time period according to the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. The Herpes-Cold Sores Support Network states that herpes has been documented since ancient Greece but most likely originated long before then. According to Avert, HIV may have transferred to humans sometime between 1884 and 1924.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that an epidemic of syphilis around the year 1500 spread through Europe and from then on was widely documented by European writers. Although the original of syphilis is unknown, some scientists believe transmission began with explorers returning from the New World, while others believe it was confused with leprosy.

The Herpes-Cold Sores Support Network states that the herpes virus was been documented by the ancient Greeks. The Greeks wrote about “creeping” sores and the Roman Emperor Tiberius attempted to eradicate the disease by forbidding public kissing. The herpes virus is linked to chicken pox, shingles and mononucleosis, but was not discovered to be a separate strain of virus until 1968.

According to Avert, a virus similar to HIV called SIV was identified in chimpanzees in 1999. There are many theories as to how the virus then crossed into the human population, but Avert says this occurred sometime between 1884 and 1924. Evidence of origin points directly to African wild chimpanzees, specifically from Southern Cameroon.