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im confused and scared
Aug 28, 2012

hi doc, i read one of your answer on the tittle BIG LIES AN SPECULATIONS.

I read some of your responses on speculation that HIV or any virus that is a blood borne virus or based fluid can change by mutation and become airborne. You said that logically a single mutation of the virus will not change the virus in an aerobic agent. On the other hand I read an article written by David R. Zimmerman says this Can A bloodborne or body fluid-borne virus be Transformed by a single mutation into an airborne agent (a "flyer"), as the scare scenarios Imply? It's conceivable. But it's "probably unlikely," according to virologist Beth Levine, MD, director of virology research in the infectious diseases division at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. "Single amino acid mutations can change the tropism [the residential preference] of a virus" in some experimental Situations, Dr. Levine says, "but there have not been any examples of Such mutations actually occurring in nature, changing from a virus bodily fluid or bloodborne route of transmission to a respiratory route. "

So, says Dr. Levine, "The media's claim is not totally without scientific basis. But there are no precedents for it, and it's unlikely.

"I think it's irresponsible to raise That concern," she added, "Because viruses in general are very well-adapted to Their milieuand Suddenly They Do not just change Their environment." Will this kind of level-headed assessment half quell hysteria? My questions are WHY this doctor says it's conceivable, that scares me because its possible or what, and then she said That its possibly unlikely. I really dont understand. Then She Said That some mutations can be present but in experimental but not in nature Situations, (LIKE WHAT HAPPENED WITHTHE H1N5 IN LABORATORY or that IS other kind of virus that cannot be compared with HIV) those mutations can occur in nature? Please answer Im confused doc Because She does not deny at all that there is a Possibility?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

No need for fear here. Nature is probably the most powerful cauldron for evolutionary experimentation and hasn't yet discovered a way that HIV could mutate to an airborne agent. HIV has certainly shown us the capacity to mutate and evolve- but principally to develop drug resistance. Anything is conceptually possible, but that doesn't mean that it's likely to happen.

With 30 million people living with HIV, each harboring tens, if not hundreds of millions of rapidly evolving viruses, HIV's mutational experiment has been done *trillions* (30 million times 10 million) of times or more. We're yet to see the virus change it's mode of transmission.

BTW, the story on H1N5 is entirely different. This situation is one of genetic rearrangements that facilitated species expansion, but not mechanism of transmission- and yes, it's an entirely different family of virus too.


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