Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is the result of crossspecies transmission of simian immunodeficiency virus from chimpanzees (SIVcpz). SIVcpz is a chimeric virus which shares common ancestors with viruses infecting redcapped mangabeys and a subset of guenon species. The epidemiology of SIV infection in hominoids is characterized by low prevalences and an uneven geographic distribution. Surveys in Cameroon indicated that two closely related members of the guenon species subset, mustached guenons and greater spot-nosed guenons, infected with SIVmus and SIVgsn, respectively, also have low rates of SIV infections in their populations. Compared to that for other monkeys, including red-capped mangabeys and closely related guenon species, such an epidemiology is unusual. By intensifying sampling of geographically distinct populations of mustached and greater spot-nosed guenons in Gabon and including large sample sets of mona guenons from Cameroon, we add strong support to the hypothesis that the paucity of SIV infections in wild populations is a general feature of this monophyletic group of viruses. Furthermore, comparative phylogenetic analysis reveals that this phenotype is a feature of this group of viruses infecting phylogenetically disparate hosts, suggesting that this epidemiological phenotype results from infection with these HIV-1- related viruses rather than from a common host factor. Thus, these HIV-1-related viruses, i.e., SIVcpz and the guenon viruses which share an ancestor with part of the SIVcpz genome, have an epidemiology distinct from that found for SIVs in other African primate species.
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