Scientists say that the precursor to the HIV was in monkeys for millennia

September 17th, 2010 - 9:40 pm ICT by Aishwarya Bhatt  

monkey Sep 17 (THAINDIAN NEWS) Scientists say they have found new evidence that the ancestor to the virus that causes AIDS, Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), have existed in monkeys for more years than initially thought.

The virus is now known to have existed in monkeys for at least 32,000 years. Scientists initially thought that the virus have been around for just few hundreds of years but they now know that humans have been exposed to the virus for more than thirty centuries now.

The new revelation further astounds researchers as to how the virus migrated into humans. HIV/ AIDS have been responsible for several deaths since the discovery of the virus in the 20th century. The virus is estimated to have killed some 25 million people and several other millions are infected.

Cure for the disease has been elusive over the years though improvement in science has made drugs available to help extend the lives of those infected with the disease.

 The virus is present in almost all African monkeys though it does not sicken them and scientists say that is best explained by the fact that the virus have been around for a very long time.

In the research that was published in the Science Magazine on Thursday, scientists tested 19 monkeys from the West African Island of Bioko. The Bioko Island separated from Cameroon when the sea level rose about 10,000 years ago. That means the monkeys on the Island have been isolated from other monkeys since then. Six monkey species were carried off to the Island.

The test carried on the monkeys on the Island by the researchers revealed that four species of the monkeys, red-eared guenons, Preuss’s guenons, black colobuses and the drills species had members that were infected with different strains of the virus, meaning the infection was not from the same source.

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