HIV and related viruses

HIV was discovered by Barre-Sinoussi, Montagnier, and colleagues at the Institut Pasteur, Paris, in 1983 and given the name lymphadenopathy associated virus (LAV). In 1984 Popovic, Gallo, and co-workers described the development of cell lines permanently and productively infected with the virus. In line with two previously described retroviruses, HTLV-I and HTLV-II, they designated this virus HTLV-III. Other virus isolates from patients with AIDS and AIDS-related disease in America, Europe and Central Africa have proved to be all the same virus, now referred to as HIV-1. Eight subtypes of HIV-1, alphabetically designated, have so far been described.

Around 1985 another human retrovirus, different from HIV-1, was recognised in patients from West Africa. This virus, referred to by the Paris investigators as LAV-2 and more recently as HIV-2, is also associated with human AIDS and AIDS-related disease. It is closely related to the simian retrovirus, SIV, carried by healthy African green monkeys, and the cause of an AIDS-like disease in captive rhesus monkeys. Though potentially important worldwide, HIV-2 infections remain uncommon outside West Africa and they have proved far less virulent than HIV-1 infections.

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