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HIV-2 is thought to have entered the human population in the 1930s through cross-species transmission of SIV from sooty mangabeys in West Africa. Unlike HIV-1, HIV-2 has not led to a global pandemic, and recent data suggest that HIV-2 prevalence is declining in some West African states where it was formerly endemic. Although many early isolates of HIV-2 were derived from patients presenting with AIDS-defining illnesses, it was noted that a much larger proportion of HIV-2-infected subjects behaved as long-term non-progressors (LTNP) than their HIV-1-infected counterparts. Many HIV-2-infected adults are asymptomatic, maintaining an undetectable viral load for over a decade. However, despite lower viral loads, HIV-2 progresses to clinical AIDS without therapeutic intervention in most patients. In addition, successful treatment with anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is more challenging than for HIV-1. HIV-2 is significantly more sensitive to restriction by host restriction factor tripartite motif TRIM5α than HIV-1, and this difference in sensitivity is linked to differences in capsid structure. In this review we discuss the determinants of HIV-2 disease progression and focus on the important interactions between TRIM5α and HIV-2 capsid in long-term viral control.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical and experimental immunology

Publication Date





305 - 317


Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.