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HIV "New Strain" Story: For More Information

February 28, 2005

On February 23, 2005 the State of New York Department of Health (DOH) sent to HIV/AIDS service providers a 10-page update on the single case of a patient with multi-drug resistant HIV who progressed rapidly to AIDS.1 Extensive media coverage had resulted from an earlier DOH press release and press conference less than two weeks before.2 The February 23 letter noted that as of that date, "no other persons infected with the same strain have been identified." (A report of a similar virus in San Diego turned out to be erroneous.)

The Retroviruses conference (in Boston, February 22-25, 2005) did little to resolve the questions around this case. The conference quickly added a panel of expert speakers who reviewed current knowledge and answered audience questions, but little new information was available.

Most scientists, physicians, and activists are skeptical about whether this case represents a new strain at all, and they agree that we do not yet know if a new public-health threat has been discovered. But new HIV strains develop all the time. More virulent, transmissible, and/or drug-resistant viruses seem inevitable unless we do better in preventing the transmission of HIV. There is widespread agreement among activists and others that social norms must more clearly insist that risking infection of others or of oneself is not acceptable.

At this time the best information source is a Web page of background papers and documents3 placed online by CHAMP (Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project) and TAG (Treatment Action Group). It is available at www.champnetwork.org/index.php?name=newcase.

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References

  1. www.champnetwork.org/media/NYDOHFeb23.pdf (PDF).

  2. On February 11 The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a press release, "A highly resistant strain of rapidly progressive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been diagnosed for the first time in a New York City resident who had not previously undergone antiviral drug treatment. ..." The full early press release (the one that caused the media frenzy) is at www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/public/press05/pr016-05.html.

  3. www.champnetwork.org/index.php?name=newcase.


ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2005 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.




  
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This article was provided by AIDS Treatment News. It is a part of the publication AIDS Treatment News.
 

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