Scientists Confirm That HIV Originated in Wild Chimpanzees, Study Says
May 26, 2006
Scientists on Thursday in a study published in the online edition of the journal Science confirmed that HIV originated in wild chimpanzees and likely crossed over into humans in Cameroon, the New York Times reports (Altman, New York Times, 5/26). Scientists for many years believed that HIV evolved from a similar virus called simian immunodeficiency virus that is found in chimpanzees, but until now that virus had been found only in chimpanzees in captivity (Xinhuanet, 5/26). Beatrice Hahn, a virologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and researchers from the University of Montpellier and the University of Nottingham over seven years collected 599 samples of chimpanzee feces from 10 forest sites in the southern region of Cameroon and tested them for SIV. The scientists were able to trace individual chimpanzees by genetically analyzing the feces. The researchers found evidence of SIV infection in samples that came from five of the 10 forest sites. The researchers recorded an SIV prevalence of about 35% in three chimpanzee communities and a prevalence of 4% and 5% in the two other communities (New York Times, 5/26). All infected chimpanzees had a shared base genetic pattern that suggested a common progenitor of the virus, Hahn said. SIV does not appear to cause illness in chimpanzees, Hahn said (Neergard, AP/WJLA, 5/25).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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