Chimps Can Get AIDS: Study
SIV-infected chimps have high death rate, low T-cell counts
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2009 3:44 PM CDT
A Chimpanzee sits on a swing at Alipur zoo in Calcutta, India, Monday, June 29, 2009.   (AP Photo/Sucheta Das)
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(Newser) – Scientists have found evidence that chimpanzees can be sickened by SIV, the non-human version of HIV, adding to the understanding of how HIV/AIDS developed, the AP reports. Scientists have long believed that while other primates can contract simian immunodeficiency virus, they are not affected by it. A 9-year study of Tanzanian chimps overturns that view and could shed new light on the human form.

"From an evolutionary and epidemiological point of view, these data can be regarded as a 'missing link' in the history of the HIV pandemic," said one researcher not involved with the study. The scientists found that chimps infected with SIV had death rates 10 to 16 times higher than their uninfected peers—and had low T-cell counts, just like humans with AIDS. The disease is now killing chimps at a high rate in the wild.