It is well known that gastrointestinal complications are a part of advanced AIDS in both humans and monkeys. These intestinal problems lead to advanced immune deficiency, and ultimately progression of the disease into its final stages. However, researchers have learned for the first time that these intestinal complications are being caused by other separate viruses. What does this mean for HIV patients? Identifying the viruses that affect the intestines may allow scientists to slow the progress of AIDS by fighting this progression trigger.

The feces of monkeys with SIV (the primate equivalent of HIV) was tested to genetically sequence the viruses found in the intestines. They actually found a significant number of previously indescribable intestinal viruses. While researchers do not yet understand why SIV positive monkeys have these viruses, the connection may lie in the composition of their immune system.

There were also blood-borne viruses found in the fecal matter of the monkeys that were tested. They not only found DNA viruses but also RNA viruses. Now another connection is being sought between these types of viruses.

There are two sides to this discovery. First of all, the research is hoped to help scientists learn how to slow down the progression of AIDS. The other possibility is that intestinal virus testing may allow individuals to discover the current progression of their disease. This could make tracking the progression of the disease much more feasible in the future via testing for the presence of these other viruses.