HIV is a member of the lentivirus family of animal retro-viruses. Lentiviruses, including visna virus of sheep and the bovine, feline, and simian immunodeficiency viruses, are capable of long-term latent infection of cells and short-term cytopathic effects, and they all produce slowly progressive, fatal diseases that include wasting syndromes and CNS degeneration. Two closely related types of HIV, designated HIV-1 and HIV-2, have been identified. HIV-1 is by far the most common cause of AIDS; HIV-2, which differs in genomic structure and antigenicity, causes a form of AIDS with slower progression than HIV-1-linked disease.
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