Animal retroviruses are classified within seven different genera, of which members of five genera are present in primates C-type virus, D-type virus, human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV), simian T-cell lymphotropic virus (STLV), bovine leukemia virus (BLV), lentiviruses, and spuma or foamy viruses. This chapter reviews the salient biology of each of these five viral groups. Emphasis is placed on the D-type simian retroviruses (SRVs) and lentiviruses (SIVs) because of their etiologic association with simian AIDS (SAIDS). Humans also harbor retroviruses: two strains of human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1 and HTLV-2) with simian counterparts (STLV-1 and STLV-2) and two major strains of lentivirus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1 and HIV-2), which also have simian counterparts (SIVs). In the natural African simian hosts, SIV does not cause any disease, but experimental infection of captive macaques with certain SIV strains, especially from the sooty mangabey, produces a progressive and fatal immunodeficiency syndrome similar to AIDS in humans, making this primate lentivirus model very useful for research into AIDS pathogenesis, vaccines, and antiviral therapy.
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