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New Strain of HIV found
Feb 16, 2005

Hello Dr. Bob, I just heard on the news that doctors in NYC found a new strain of HIV that is resistant to 3 out of 4 types of HIV medications and progresses to AIDS very quickly. One doctor said that it is "much ado about nothing." To me it seems much more serious than that. What are your thoughts on this new finding?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Well, I don't thing we can conclude either that it's "much ado about nothing" or that it's time to panic. Rather, I believe we need more information and we need it quickly to asses just how dangerous this situation is.

Some things to consider include:

1. This strain of the virus might be far less aggressive or dangerous in someone with a different genetic makeup.

2. The virus might be less dangerous in someone who doesn't use methamphetamine.

3. We don't know how easily this multi-drug-resistant HIV can be transmitted from person to person.

Another way to perhaps think about it is that we have known for many years that a small portion of folks infected with HIV are long-term slow progressor (or even non-progressors). The exact reason for this remains under investigation, but some scientists have suggested that it is genetic mutations that disable the receptors on the outside of CD4 cells. If these folks are on one end of a spectrum, then perhaps the gentleman in NYC was on the other end of that spectrum. In other words, he might be a genetic "fast progressor."

We know of cases where two sexual partners have been infected by the same strain of virus and one does reasonably well while the other progresses very quickly.

If nothing else, at this point we do know that this is a case of recent infection with a multi-drug-resistant HIV. That in and of itself should be enough for us all to redouble our prevention efforts and to examine new and even more effective ways of getting the message out to those placing themselves and others at risk.

Hope that helps. I'll try to keep everyone posted as this story unfolds and we learn more.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Dr. Bob


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