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Although the AIDS virus (HIV-1) entered the human population through chimpanzees, scientists have long believed that chimpanzees don't develop AIDS. But a new study from an international team, including University of Minnesota professors Anne Pusey and Michael Wilson, shows that chimpanzees infected with SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus), the precursor to HIV-1, do contract and die from AIDS. The discovery is published in the July 23 issue of Nature.
he authors report that infected chimpanzees in their study group were 10-16 times more likely to die than those who were uninfected. The team also found that infected females were less likely to give birth and infants born to infected mothers were unlikely to survive. The virus, they learned, was transmitted sexually and through mother's milk. Over the nine-year study period, 10-20 percent of the 94 chimpanzees were infected at any one time