Scientists Find Aggressive New HIV Strain

Source: Liz Neporent / ABC News

Swedish scientists have identified a new strain of HIV that appears to progress much faster than most previously identified variations of the virus.

The new strain, known as A3/02, is a recombinant, meaning it is a cross between two previously identified HIV strains. Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Lund University researchers said that the infection moves from HIV to full-blown AIDS in about five years, nearly two- to two-and-a-half years faster than most previously known strains.

So far the new infection seems confined to West Africa. But experts fear that recombinants are becoming more common and could start to spread globally, especially to highly mobile regions such as Europe and the United States. The researchers said recombinants develop faster than the “parental” strains they spring from, though fortunately, this latest strain seems treatable with existing drugs.

An HIV diagnosis changes to AIDS when a person’s white blood cell count dips below 200, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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