Scientists discover new strain of HIV in NetherlandsIt’s more virulent, it spreads faster, but there’s hope

2022-04-23 0 By

The war between humans and viruses has never stopped, from the Bubonic Plague to the eradication of smallpox and, today, the Novel Coronavirus.In fact, we can see that not only is our understanding of viruses improving, but the genetic sequence of viruses is constantly mutating in response to human evolution.Hiv-1, an incurable disease, has affected 38 million people worldwide, killing 33 million so far.It has also long been feared that HIV-1 would undergo a genetic mutation, and this has now happened.According to a study led by scientists at Oxford University’s Big Data Institute, they discovered a new, highly virulent strain of HIV in the Netherlands, which has now been confirmed.The results were published Thursday in the journal Science.People infected with the new variant, known as the “VB variant”, show significant differences before receiving antiretroviral treatment compared with people infected with other HIV variants.People infected with the VB variant had a viral load (the level of virus in their blood) that was 3.5 to 5.5 times higher.In addition, people with the VB variant lost twice as many CD4 cells — a marker of HIV’s damage to the immune system — as those with the other variants, putting them at greater risk of developing AIDS.People with the VB variant also showed an increased risk of spreading the virus to others.Encouragingly, however, patients with the VB variant had similar immune system recovery and survival rates after starting treatment to those with other HIV variants.However, the researchers stress that since the VB variant causes a more rapid decline in immune system strength, this makes it critical for individuals to be diagnosed as early as possible and to start treatment as soon as possible.