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HIV vs. FIV vs. SIV...
Aug 22, 2005

Dear Dr. Wohl:

I know this question isn't in your "category", but, it isn't in any category active or inactive and I have come to respect and trust your feedback on this site. So, I ask you the question (and bear with me as you read along, you'll understand my rationale by the end).

My question is, can someone with HIV transmit it to a cat and it become FIV in the cat (due to scratches or bites which draw blood) or vice versa? I know this may sound like an odd question but I ask because my cat is FIV- and I am HIV+. Sometimes when we play he "loses himself" and draws a bit of blood from me with his claws or teeth (rarely the latter). I recently thought of this question in fear of giving my cat H/FIV (I just adopted this cat in December '04 and haven't had a cat since I've been HIV+). As odd as this question seems, didn't HIV originate in primates (monkeys?) either by bites or by organs used from them for polio vaccines? If so, then it seems that SIV crossed species. So, can that happen between a cat and a person? Also, what other animals suffer from their own species strain of HIV?

Thanks.

Response from Dr. Wohl

This definitely goes into the Miscelaneous category (no pun intented: CATegory!).

I don't think it is likely to work this way. The whole monkey-human origin is based on the incredible similarity of Siamian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) and HIV. In fact there is very little difference between SIV and HIV-2, an HIV type that is found in Western Africa.

FIV and HIV share less in common, as their hosts are quite different. So you pose little risk to Morris.

On the other hand, getting scratched and bit by a cat is a really bad idea. As fastidious as they are, their mouths and claws are often contaminated by nasty germs that cause significant problems even for people with normal immune systems. Get some good leather gloves and rough house safely. No glove, no kitty love!

DW



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