Current Infectious Disease Reports

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 338–346 | Cite as

The origins of HIV and implications for the global epidemic

  • Fran Van Heuverswyn
  • Martine PeetersEmail author


HIV type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2) are the result of several cross-species transmissions from primates to humans. Recently, the ancestral strains of HIV-1 groups M and N were shown to still persist in today’s wild chimpanzee populations (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in south Cameroon. Lately, HIV-1 group O-related viruses have been identified in western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), called SIVgor, but chimpanzees are most likely the original reservoir of this simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection. HIV-2 is the result of at least eight distinct cross-species transmissions of SIV from sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys) in West Africa. Although the origin of HIV-1 and HIV-2 became clearer, some important questions concerning pathogenicity and epidemic spread of certain HIV/SIV variants need to be further elucidated. Because humans are still exposed to a plethora of primate lentiviruses through hunting and handling of primate bushmeat, the possibility of additional zoonotic transfers of primate lentiviruses from other primates must be considered.


Wild Chimpanzee Gorilla Gorilla West Central Sooty Mangabey Western Gorilla 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Current Medicine Group LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR145‘Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)’ and University of Montpellier 1Montpellier Cdx5France

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