The Simian Immunodeficiency Virus of sooty mangabeys (SIVsmm) has been revealed to be at the origin of Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 2 (HIV-2) in humans, firstly detected from two Portuguese patients in 1986. HIV-2 is mainly restricted to West Africa where it infects up to 1 to 2 million people. HIV-2 is also present in Europe, mainly Portugal and France, India and United States of America. Two major HIV-2 groups, groups A and B, were generated by two independent transmission events involving infected sooty mangabeys from the Taï forest in Ivory Coast. Seven other HIV-2 groups have been described, but each has only been identified in one patient. To date, no subtypes have been formally described but some preliminary data suggest that HIV-2 group A may be divided in two distinct subtypes with distinct geographical origins. To date only two recombinant forms have been described: one circulating recombinant form (CRF01_AB) and one unique recombinant form. In this review, we focused mainly on molecular data available and their insights about HIV-2 origins, diversity, drug resistance and global epidemiology.
Keywords: Epidemiology; Genetic diversity; HIV-2; West Africa.
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