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February 12, 2005

New HIV strain discovered

Topics: Health Issues

The only thing scarier than this article is the fact that this could just be a warm-up if you take into account the emergence of sequential infection with different strains and super-infecting strains - and not only more super-infecting strains but how about with differential immune containment! Goodbye chances of a vaccine anytime soon!

A previously unknown strain of HIV that is highly resistant to virtually all known drugs and appears to lead to the rapid onset of AIDS was detected in a man last week, New York health officials said Friday.

While the extent of the spread of the disease is unknown, officials said the situation was alarming.

"We consider this a major potential problem," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The department issued an alert to all hospitals and doctors in the city to be on the lookout for the new strain.

The virus was found in a New York City man in his mid-40s who engaged in unprotected anal sex with other men on multiple occasions while he was using crystal methamphetamine.

While HIV strains that are resistant to some drug treatments have been on the rise in recent years throughout the United States, city officials said this case was unique and worrisome for several reasons.

First, they said, the strain of the disease was resistant to three of the four classes of drugs used to treat HIV from the moment the patient got sick. Typically, drug resistance comes after a patient is treated with retroviral drugs, often because they go off the prescribed course. And, more often than not, a person is only resistant to one or two classes of drugs.

But the resistance comes in combination with its rapid transformation into AIDS. Each of those things has been seen before, but never together.

In this case, the patient developed AIDS from 2 to 10 months after being infected. Usually, it takes 10 years for the average person infected with HIV to develop AIDS.

At a news conference at New York's health department, where Frieden was joined by nearly a dozen doctors and community leaders, several people recalled having that same worried feeling they had more than two decades ago, when AIDS first started appearing.

The city has been in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

More tests need to be completed before it is clear if any combination of drugs can work on this strain of the virus. But given what they know now, Frieden said treatment would be extremely difficult.

From the moment the health department learned about this case a week ago, they have been studying complex laboratory tests to figure out what exactly they had on their hands as well as trying to figure out the man's sexual history.  Continue reading ...

For Extensive Commentary I recommend - The Cardan Chronicles
Hat tip - The Cardan Chronicles

Posted by Hyscience at February 12, 2005 8:26 PM

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