My understanding of the science and politics surrounding the use of chimpanzees in AIDS research was greatly enhanced by your recent article.1 However, the column erroneously reported that there is no small-animal AIDS model. Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection of domestic cats causes disease that is clinically indistinguishable from HIV-1 infection in humans. Cats are relatively inexpensive to maintain, have a short breeding cycle, and pose less of a zoonotic-disease threat to their handlers than do nonhuman primates. Antiviral therapies for HIV have shown generally similar efficacy and toxicity when administered to FIV-infected cats. Culture-adapted strains of FIV utilize the CXCR-4 receptor, just as do T-tropic strains of HIV. The similarities between HIV-1 and FIV are too numerous to list here.

There is a small but vibrant worldwide community of FIV research laboratories publishing new information on lentiviral pathogenesis, intervention, and vaccination strategies. Regrettably, many HIV researchers are unaware...

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