Researchers Identify More Aggressive HIV Strain That Leads To AIDS Twice As Fast

Posted February 4, 2022 by with 1 comment

Move over COVID, HIV has a new variant, too. Thankfully, the findings are not cause for alarm:

An international research team has identified a highly virulent and infectious strain of HIV that likely began circulating in the Netherlands in the 1990s and has infected more than 100 people. Left untreated, this viral strain leads to a much higher level of virus in the blood and a doubled rate of decline in key immune cells compared with the typical HIV disease progression.

The research team, led by scientists at the University of Oxford with key contributions from Stichting HIV Monitoring in Amsterdam, has stressed that these findings are not cause for alarm. This particular HIV strain responds well to antiretroviral treatment, which has the added benefit of blocking transmission. While the strain could still be transmitting to new people, once someone with the strain starts treatment, it is not associated with an increased risk of illness or death.

Dr. Douglas D. Richman, a clinical virologist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved with the study, praised the new paper, published Thursday in Science, as “the first compelling description of an HIV variant that appears to be more virulent.”

“The most important take-home lesson is, it’s not like a new omicron variant here and that we’re going to have a new wave of some terrible problem,” Richman said.

[NBC: A ‘highly virulent’ HIV strain is ‘no cause for alarm,’ scientists say]