Highly Virulent HIV-1 Variant

Highly Virulent HIV-1 Variant Discovered

According to a February 3, 2022 article in Science magazine, researchers in the Netherlands have discovered a highly virulent variant of subtype-B HIV-1.

Researchers examined 109 individuals who had contracted this variant and found that they experienced a 3.5-fold to 5.5-fold increase in viral load, and their CD4 cell declined twice as fast, as some 6600 individuals with other strains of HIV-1. By the time they were diagnosed, these individuals were vulnerable to developing AIDS within two to three years. Without treatment, these individuals would advance from HIV to AIDS, on average, nine months after diagnosis for individuals in their thirties with this variant; for people forty or more years of age, the decline to AIDS happens even faster. The increased virulence is an inherent property of the virus rather than a particular property of the individuals in this transmission cluster.

Individuals who contracted this variant of HIV-1 responded to treatment the same as patients with other strains. CD4 rates improved at the same rate and mortality decreased at the same rate as patients with other strains. Eighty-two percent of these individuals were men who have sex with men. The treatments were much more successful when started immediately upon diagnosis.

Early treatment prevents CD4 cell decline from leading to later morbidity and mortality; thus clinical, epidemiological, and evolutionary considerations are aligned. The discovery of a highly virulent and transmissible viral variant therefore emphasizes the importance of access to frequent testing for at-risk individuals and of adherence to recommendations for immediate treatment initiation for every person living with HIV.

Read the full article here: https://bit.ly/3J8mIzY.