Although HIV is a relatively “new” disease for humans, scientists now believe that it has been common in apes and monkeys for at least 32,000 years. As a result, most of the primates seem to have “developed a genetic resistance to HIV because it was so common among their ancestors.”
Researchers in have been conducting DNA and other tests on 79 primates from six separate monkey tribes on the African island of Bioko (located some 32 kilometers off the western coast of Cameroon). Yet, despite the isolation of the tribes, they were surprised to find that some of the animals were infected with SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) also known as “monkey HIV. The infection, though, is “minor unlike what happens to humans.”
Additional tests also showed that there were actually four strains of SIV in the four species studied, each “genetically very different from one another.” This means they did not come from monkeys brought to the island by humans in the last few hundred years. However, each “was close to the strain infecting members of the same four genuses on the mainland.” It was therefore concluded that they were in existence there before the island was cut off from the mainland.Bioko used to be the end of a peninsula attached to the mainland in what is now Cameroon, but it was separated at the end of the last ice age when sea levels rose 10,000 years ago.
The mystery remains, however, as how a benign virus in monkeys (who’ve suffered from it for a Millennia) crossed over into humans as one of mankind’s’ most deadly diseases only about 50-60 years ago, killing approximately 25 million people in such a relatively short span of time.
To learn more about other animals with aids check out Diana’s article http://echoflam.com/pets-in-hartford/facts-about-feline-aids