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about HIV1 and HIV2
Oct 22, 1996

Mr. Sowadsky, I'm from Ecuador, and I have some questions in my mind: Is possible that a person be infect by VIH1 and VIH2 at same time?, I read that VIH2 had the gen vpx, and VIH1 had the gen vpu. VPU and VPX had the same action in the genoma of VIH? Could you tell me if VIH resist an acid Ph or a basic Ph? if not resist to both extremes of Ph, please explain me which are the changes in the VIH? Can mosquito transmit HIV? thanks Mr. Sowadsky.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your questions. First of all, for those of you who are wondering what VIH is, this is the same as HIV. In Spanish (which is the language spoken in Ecuador), as well as French and some other languages, HIV is known as VIH.

It is certainly possible for a person to be infected with both HIV-1 and HIV-2 at the same time. This is called "co-infection". There are cases reported in the literature of persons being infected with both viruses at the same time. However remember that although HIV-1 is found worldwide, HIV-2 is primarily found in Western Africa. Therefore, co-infection with both HIV-1 and HIV-2 is rare outside of Western Africa.

Both the gene vpu (found in HIV-1), and the gene vpx (found in HIV-2) are both regulatory genes found in these viruses. It's hard to say if they function the exact same way, but they both serve genetic regulatory functions in each virus.

After a review of some of the technical literature, I found that HIV survives in an optimal pH of 7.1, but can survive in a low pH environment, all the way down to 4.5. So it seems to do quite well in an acidic environment. This is especially relevent since a low pH is normally present in the female genital tract. Therefore, HIV appears to have evolved to survive in the acidic environment of the female reproductive tract, until it gets into the womans bloodstream.

In regard to mosquitoes and HIV, mosquitoes cannot transmit HIV for the following reasons:

HIV cannot live outside the human body for more than a few minutes. Mosquitoes don't bite one person then hop onto the next. Instead it's usually days between biting one person and then the next. HIV would be long dead before a mosquito bites another person.

Mosquitoes don't inject blood into a person. Instead, they inject their saliva into you. The saliva prevents blood from clotting. By the way, it's their saliva that causes a mosquito bite to itch. Other diseases can go into the salivary glands of a mosquito. Malaria is a good example, and malaria has evolved to survive inside mosquitoes. Luckily HIV has not evolved to be able to live in the environment found inside a mosquito. HIV cannot get into the salivary glands of mosquitoes, and will not be injected into another persons body. So a mosquito does in fact puncture your skin to get access to your blood, but it does NOT inject another persons blood into you, and will not inject HIV into you.

There's lots of data showing that the patterns of spread of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes (like malaria), is totally different from the pattern of spread of the HIV virus. Malaria and other diseases spread by insects, strike anyone living in a given area who are exposed to those insects. However, HIV only strikes people engaging in specific activities like sexual activities, needle sharing etc.

So all the data proves that HIV cannot be spread by mosquitoes or other insects. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS



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