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Study dates HIV ancestor to at least 32,000 years ago

In a discovery that sheds new light on the history of AIDS, scientists have found evidence that the ancestor to the virus that causes the disease has been in monkeys and apes for at least 32,000 years — not just a few hundred years, as had been previously thought.

That means humans have presumably been exposed many times to SIV, the simian immunodeficiency virus, because people have been hunting monkeys for millenniums, risking infection every time they butcher one for food.

Confirming that the virus is very old helps explain why it infects almost all African monkeys but does not sicken them. Over many generations, as any disease kills off vulnerable victims, the host adapts to it.

The new research, published Thursday in Science magazine, was relatively simple. Scientists tested 79 monkeys from Bioko, a volcanic island 19 miles off the West African coast. Bioko used to be the end of a peninsula attached to the mainland in what is now Cameroon, but it was cut off when sea levels rose 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

Since then, six monkey species have developed in isolation on the island, and scientists found that four of them had members that were infected with SIV.

Donald G. McNeil, Jr., The New York Times

T subway portal gets facelift and return to glory

In a world of functional but mundane MBTA entrances, the portal for inbound travelers at Copley Square is one of a kind: a filigreed framework of flowers and curlicues in cast iron, at once classically inspired and reminiscent of the Art Nouveau kiosks that distinguish the Metro in Paris.

The civic leaders who commissioned the covered entrance 99 years ago wanted to enhance the grandeur of the Boston Public Library behind it, not mar it with a run-of-the-mill subway entrance. But with time and neglect, the fine details became obscured by rust, thick layers of paint, and assorted graffiti; transients were sleeping on the roof. The structure, bowed and buckling, was at risk of collapse.

But now, after more than two years of painstaking repairs and reconstruction, the Copley Station inbound head house — as subway entrances are known - has been restored.

A crew from the same Easton blacksmith shop that revived the gates enclosing Harvard Yard and the ornamentation around the State House is in the process of reinstalling it on the Boylston Street sidewalk near Dartmouth Street.

The restoration, costing a little under $1.9 million, is a mere line item on the books of a roughly $50 million modernization project intended to make the Green Line stations at Arlington and Copley accessible to people with disabilities.

Eric Moskowitz, The Boston Globe