My question could be naive, but I was not able to find an answer. I have read at several places that viruses tend to evolve to less dangerous forms (HIV for example), se they do not run out of hosts, and eventually disappear. Natural selection, that I understand. What I do not understand, how does a virus 'know' when to start mutation to a less dangerous form?

It's not they are connected, and tell each other, slow down, we are running out of hosts, let's do something about it.

Is this process the answer?

  • Can you please provide citations to literature detailing the facts that HIV evolves to less dangerous forms? As far as I know, it mutates rapidly, but doesn't become less dangerous. Jan 24, 2020 at 14:27
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    Those with more knowledge of virology may be able to clarify, but I believe what I am talking about is Antigenic Variation which can be confused with Antigenic Shift which you linked to Jan 24, 2020 at 14:33


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