A study released Thursday in the journal Science describes the discovery of what researchers describe as an extremely virulent strain of HIV that has been spreading in the European country since the 1990s. The researchers researched in the Netherlands.
According to the findings, blood samples gathered from 109 affected individuals throughout the nation revealed that persons infected with the strain had approximately six times more quantities of the virus in their bodies than people infected with other strains.
Researchers discovered that they also had lesser antibodies against the virus and enhanced “infectivity,” which means they had more of the virus in their systems and may have been more prone to transmit it than previously thought.
Even viruses that have been infecting people for decades or more may and can change to become more dangerous, according to infectious disease specialist Joel Wertheim, who wrote a commentary on the results and provided UPI with an email confirming the findings.
According to Wertheim, who is an associate adjunct professor at the University of California-San Diego, “however this variant seems more infectious and contagious, the same general health system of testing, connection to care, and prompt provision of antiretroviral drugs remain our best option.”
According to the World Health Organization, over 38 million individuals have been infected with HIV worldwide. Although the number of new HIV infections in the United States has decreased in recent years, HIV.gov estimates that around 35,000 individuals throughout the nation test positive for the virus each year.
HIV.gov is a website that gives access to HIV and AIDS information compiled by the United States government from various sources.
The Dutch researchers discovered 109 persons infected with an HIV strain “different.” More than 6,600 people in an ongoing nationwide study of the virus and its consequences were found to have the “subtype-B HIV-1 VB variation,” as the researchers dubbed it.
According to the researchers, when the participants in the study were diagnosed, they were at risk of having AIDS within two to three years after being diagnosed.
If the infected individual does not get treatment, it is expected to proceed quicker than other HIV strains, which may take up to 10 years before developing into AIDS.
According to Wertheim, the new strain does not necessarily represent a “public health crisis” because it continues to respond to currently available treatments and does not appear to impair the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. These drugs are used to prevent infection before exposure to the bacteria.
I am not very worried about the effect of this, or similar variations, on the effort to bring the epidemic to a close in the United States, Wertheim told the Associated Press.
“The variety reported in this current research responds to antiretroviral treatment in the same way that other HIV strains do, and I think that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) would be successful against this variant as well,” he added.