What Does FIV and HIV Have in Common?
Whether you’re hearing about it for the first time from your veterinarian or reading about it in the article that topped Google’s search results, FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is often likened to its human counterpart: HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). That’s because both conditions are incredibly similar—so similar in fact, that studying each one could lead to valuable information about the other! (You can read more about that in this article.)
But have you ever wondered what exactly FIV and HIV have in common? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve detailed 7 similarities between the two down below.
#1: Both Are from the Same Family of Viruses
FIV and HIV are both from the family of retroviruses, which are viruses that don’t have the ability to replicate on their own. So inside the body, they go inside a host cell and trick it to make copies of them, damaging the cell in the process. In the case of FIV and HIV, the immune cells or T-cells are mostly affected.
FIV and HIV can be further classified as lentiviruses, meaning they’re both slow-acting viruses. They have long incubation periods and therefore, take a while to cause symptoms to develop. That’s why cats with FIV, as well as people with HIV, can appear healthy for several years.
#2: Both Are Species-Specific
Plenty of misconceptions about FIV have led potential adopters to become afraid of FIV cats, and one of these is the fear of contracting the disease themselves. However, since FIV is species-specific, that’s simply impossible. Just like HIV can only infect humans, FIV can only infect cats.
#3: Both Are Non-Transmissible Through Saliva
Another myth about FIV is that it can be passed through saliva during regular everyday activities like grooming or sharing of food bowls. However, that’s not the case. FIV, like HIV can’t be transmitted through saliva. It can only be spread through deep bite wounds, blood transfusions, and in rare cases, sexual contact.
#4: Both May Not Cause Outward Signs of Disease for Years
Like we mentioned earlier, FIV and HIV are both slow-acting lentiviruses that take a long time to cause detectable symptoms to develop. In addition, they often lie dormant for many years, allowing infected cats and humans to live normally throughout the period. However, unfortunately, once the disease progresses to (feline or human) AIDS, it will most likely lead to death.
#5: Both Weaken the Immune System
Going back to similarity #1, FIV and HIV use immune cells or T-cells to replicate themselves and destroy the cells in the process. As the disease progresses, this causes the number of T-cells to drop below normal.
And since T-cells are the immune system’s first line of defense when pathogens and other foreign matter invade the body, FIV and HIV sufferers are left with weakened immune defenses—vulnerable to diseases and infections.
#6: Both Have No Cure
FIV and HIV currently have no specific cure. Both conditions can only be controlled through a healthy diet, routine checkups, and medications if necessary. The good news is, by living a healthy lifestyle, infected cats and people are usually able to live normally and with little to no complications.
#7: Both Are Diagnosed Through the Same Test
FIV and HIV are both diagnosed through a blood test known as the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test. It involves taking a blood sample and examining it for the presence of FIV or HIV antibodies (proteins produced by the immune system as a response to a particular disease or infection).