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HIV 1 & HIV 2

Aug 31, 2008

Hi, I often hear people mention HIV 1 & HIV 2, I never knew that a difference exist. Could you please inform me as to the difference between the two?

Response from Dr. McGowan

There are 2 major types of Human Immunodefeiciency viruses---type 1 and type 2. Both probably emerged from Africa. HIV-1 is the major cause of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) worldwide. HIV-2 (which is still mostly in Africa) tends to grow at lower levels, is transmitted less easily, and is less likely to cause AIDS than HIV-1. Certain medications, such as the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, will not work against HIV-2. There is no commercially available test to measure HIV-2 viral loads (blood levels) so treatment response is monitored by tracking the CD4 T cell blood levels. The same precautions should be used to prevent spreading or acquiring both types of HIV.


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