January 31, 1996 in Nation/World

Hiv Infects Chimpanzee, Then Mutates


For the first time, a chimpanzee is known to have developed AIDS a finding that confirms for the first time that HIV-1, the human virus responsible for most of the world’s AIDS burden, can jump between species, researchers said Tuesday.

It has long been speculated that the human virus evolved from SIV-1, the simian immunodeficiency virus, perhaps as a result of humans getting infected with monkey viruses that mutated inside their bodies.

In fact, the researchers said the human virus that infected the AIDS chimp has changed dramatically since it was experimentally injected into the animal in 1984. About 20 percent of the virus in the chimpanzee has mutated into a different form, they said.

The finding also suggests that there may be a way to test future treatments for people on chimps.

Dr. Francis Novembre, of the Yerkes Primate Center near Atlanta, discussed the research Tuesday at the Third Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, in Washington, D.C.

He said the AIDS chimp is one of 10 animals injected with HIV-1.

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