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So how did the Romans lower resistance across Europe?Some studies suggest that they and other southern Europeans had lower levels of CCR5-Delta32.However, the changing frequency of the variant reflects the changing boundary of the Roman Empire from 500 BC to AD 500, says Eric Faure at the University of Provence in Marseille, France.When Faure and colleague Manuela Royer-Carenzi investigated possible links between Roman colonisation and the frequency of the CCR5-Delta32 variant in nearly 19,000 DNA samples from across Europe, they found that the gene variant seemed to dwindle in regions conquered by the Romans (Infection, Genetics and Evolution, DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.20).People with this variant have some resistance to HIV infection and also take longer to develop AIDS.
It appears that the Roman Empire left a legacy that may still affect modern Europe - those living within its conquered lands are more susceptible to HIV.
Alternative theories include the idea that the protective variant originated in Scandinavia, and was spread north and east by the Vikings.
But the pattern of Viking migration does not match the current distribution of the variant.
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