Do other apes get STDs?

I might have mentioned this before but if I have I can’t recall the answer. Or maybe I just think I did and didn’t, which would be why I can’t recall the answer rather than some onset of LATE.

Do other apes get sexually transmitted diseases?

There’s a pretty big variation in sexual patterns among our close relatives. Gorillas are polygamous and while the Silverback rules sexual activity remains within that small group. Chimps are hierarchical and the alpha male gets a lot more while the betas try to steal the occasional shag if they can. Bonobos have sex like the man who drinks halves asks whose round is it – often and widely.

I would assume that STDs exist in other apes. Can’t see any reason why bacteria and viruses wouldn’t colonise where they could. But are they there? And are there different patterns of them consistent with those different mating patterns?

I’d sorta assume that anything that happens to bonobos – within the varied population groups at least rather than across them – must be trivial in symptoms because anything serious would have wiped out the group that had it already.

But does anyone actually know?

13 thoughts on “Do other apes get STDs?”

  1. “because anything serious would have wiped out the group that had it already.”
    you’d have thought it’d be worth researching since they may well have some adaptions that can be used in human treatments/prophylactics.

  2. Maybe, those that got it were wiped out, those that were resistant survived. Nature is cruel, natural selection always wins, it is our medical interventions that enable the weak to survive.

  3. Primates certainly do. One theorised origin of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a cross-over from the previously known (possibly as far back as 1969) simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV).


  4. The Devil beat me to it. SIV indeed. But randy Bonobos are naturally immune. Lucky for them. It can cause SAIDs in monkeys and chimps. But many species are not immunosuppressed by an infection. Depends on the species and the strain of virus.

  5. NO!

    You can’t have a disease unless it is diagnosed by a doctor. Our governments say so.

  6. @Devil’s Kitchen May 3, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    You beat me. Yes HIV/AIDS is an “out of Africa” due to ape/monkey shagging by local humans

    Welsh shag sheep; RoP goats and Blacks apes/monkeys

  7. I thought that the current”patient zero” for HIV had been pushed back to 1959 in Kinshasa in the Congo. Retrospectively identified from a blood sample.

    There’s a timeline in Wiki, suggests a time around 1900 or so for the crossover from SIV as the most probable source.

    HIV-2, a West African variant is thought to have been transmitted to humans in the 1960’s or so in the Guinea-Bissau region. From it is theorised, the Sooty Mangabee monkey (so not from an Ape).

    Interesting titbit, I didn’t know that Isaac Asimov died of AIDs related illness, apparently he was infected from a blood transfusion.

  8. @Ed

    “HS-2, a West African variant is thought to have been transmitted to humans in HoC… From it is theorised, the Sooty Mandlescumbee monkey (so not from an Ape).”

    You’re welcome

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