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Tags: hiv | aids | cuba | strains | three years

New, Aggressive Strain of HIV Found in Cuba

By    |   Tuesday, 17 February 2015 06:57 AM EST

A mutated and harder to detect strain of HIV is worrying scientists because, by the time it is identified, the AIDS that it causes is advanced and more difficult to treat, according to The Independent.

The strain was discovered in a study conducted by an EU research team in Belgium, headed by Professor Anne-Mieke Vandamme, which examined patients at Cuba's Institute for Tropical Medicine Pedro Kouri in Havana.

Vandamme studied blood samples of 73 recently infected patients, and found that the quick progression of this HIV variant heightened the risk that carriers would become very sick before ever realizing that they were infected.

This HIV strain — an aggressive combination of three subtypes of the human immunodeficiency virus — morphs into AIDS at twice the speed of more familiar strains, the British newspaper said.

The rapid transformation of HIV to AIDS gives doctors less time to treat patients before the virus turns into full-blown AIDS.

HIV normally advances to AIDS in six to 10 years, but the Cuban strain makes the leap in three years when left untreated, according to the Independent.

Public health experts say that engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners raises the danger of contracting multiple strains of HIV that can recombine into a new variant of the AIDS virus.

Patients with the strain identified in the Cuba study are likely to contract the disease so rapidly that they might not realize they were infected, according to Science Daily.

There are some 60 strains of HIV type 1 as a result of mutations, say scientists.

Out of roughly 11.3 million Cubans, about 15,000 were diagnosed with HIV as of 2013 according to UN data, the Independent reported.

Vandamme's study appears in the journal EBioMedicine.

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The Cuban strain is worrying because it makes the leap to full-blown AIDS in just three — rather than six to 10 — years if left untreated, The Independent reports.
hiv, aids, cuba, strains, three years
Tuesday, 17 February 2015 06:57 AM
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