Bushmeat Could Expose Humans to New Strain of HIV-Like Virus
Contact with wild monkeys through the bushmeat trade could have infected the first human with an HIV-like virus, and the continued poaching of primates and the destruction of tropical African forests could be exposing humans to different strains of the same virus, possibly leading to a "repeat" of the international HIV/AIDS crisis, Newsweek reports (Cowley, Newsweek, 7/8). According to a joint French-U.S. study in Cameroon published in March, almost 20% of monkeys killed for meat or kept as pets were infected with simian immunodeficiency virus, a virus closely related to HIV and hypothesized to be the virus that mutated in humans to become HIV. SIV, like HIV, can only be transmitted through bodily fluids, such as blood. Although the researchers found four new strains of SIV among the monkeys, no evidence exists to suggest that these strains have had any effect on humans so far (Ingham, Agence France-Presse, 7/2).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.