The notion that the HIV virus migrated to humans from SIV is generally accepted by the scientific community. However, new research proves that the issue is far more complex that has been believed. The Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus, which can cause AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome, when the body loses its capacity to fight infection) has been until recently believed by a substantial part of the scientific community to have migrated to humans from Simian Immuno-Deficiency Virus, a similar disease prevalent in apes. In Friday s edition of Science magazine, it is claimed that SIV is relatively rare among chimpanzees and that as in HIV, there are various strains of the disease. One chimpanzee found in Tanzania recently was found to have a strain very different from HIV. The existence of different strains of SIV and HIV open a question as to whether one type of HIV, HIV-I, could have been passed to humans by the chimpanzee species Pan troglodytes in Central Africa, and then the disease mutated in humans to produce different strains.
If it is true that the virus is in constant mutation, which would appear to be the case both among apes and humans, then the retro-viral treatments with which HIV-infected patients are treated, with great success, could cease to be effective with variations in the behavioural pattern of the disease. The team led by George Shaw, who has been studying the question of transmission of SIV to humans as HIV, concluded that due to the existence of such different strains, it is no longer tenable to claim that HIV-I was a general migration of SIV to humans, but rather a possible migration of one strain of SIV from a specific species of chimpanzee in a certain geographical area.
George Shaw postulates the question Is there another vector, apart from infection by blood? We think not but we cannot be sure. The notion of the AIDS virus mutating into an air-borne infection such as the common cold virus is terrifying. Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru