109 cases of the most virulent new variant of HIV have been detected, practically all of them in the Netherlands
An international team of scientists has discovered a highly virulent variant of the HIV, the virus that causes the disease SIDA boat. This new variant baptized as VB it quintuples the viral load in the blood, which facilitates its transmission. So far, it has been detected 109 cases, practically all in Netherlands. 82% of cases occur in men who engage in sexual practices with other men.
This new variant also appears to lead to a reduction in immune cells called cells CD4 T, which would make it easier for people infected with HIV end up developing SIDA boat much faster than with other variants.
The authors of the research, led by a team from the University of Oxford in England, estimate that the variant arose in The Netherlands between the late 80s and 90s, it spread in the 2000s and started to wind down after 2010. But this is the first time the variant has been described and mapped in individuals: BV infection was confirmed in 109 people analyzed in the study, the vast majority in the Netherlands (The investigators also detected a case in Switzerland and another Belgium).
The findings, published in the prestigious journal Science, go to show that viruses do not always evolve to become less virulent over time. The virus of HIV it is constantly changing, and the variant discovered has more than 500 mutations. «Finding a new variant is normal, but finding a new variant with unusual properties is not. Especially with increased virulence«, explains the epidemiologist chris wymant, co-author of the study.
More virulent variant
The worst scenario for researchers is the appearance of a new one that combines more virulence, more transmissibility and, in addition, presents more resistance to treatment. the variant VB has two of those three factors, but, fortunately, patients respond well to the antiretroviralsHence, as of 2010, its incidence decreased significantly, although it has not been until now when it has been known and documented. This is mainly because the scale of the HIV is very different from the coronavirus. While the effects of the latter are reflected in a matter of days, those of the HIV it takes years.
wymant sends a reassuring message. “People don't have to worry. Finding this variant emphasizes the importance of the recommendations that were already in force: that people at risk of contracting HIV have access to regular tests that allow early diagnosis and immediate treatment”, says the epidemiologist.
The risk of contracting HIV is 35 times higher among people who inject drugs, 34 times higher for trans women, 26 times higher for “sex workers” of both sexes and 25 times higher in men who have sex with men, according to statistics from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.