The path that HIV is believed to have traveled, from nonhuman primates
in central Africa to the humans who have direct contact with them, may be
a well-beaten one.
Cross-species transmission of retroviruses was once thought to be a
rare event. Now, however, the discovery of two new primate retroviruses adds
to the evidence that these viruses may be actively and frequently jumping
the species barrier.
The new retroviruses, like several previously identified ones, were
found among individuals in southern Cameroon who hunt, butcher, or keep monkeys
or apes as pets. The research (a collaborative effort by researchers from
Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore;
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] in Atlanta; the Army
Health Research Center in Yaounde, Cameroon; the Henry M. Jackson Foundation
in Rockville, Md; and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, also in
Rockville) was published in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.pnas.org) in May.
Kuehn BM. New Human Retroviruses Discovered. JAMA. 2005;293(24):2989-2990. doi:10.1001/jama.293.24.2989