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New, more virulent form of HIV discovered in Cuba

New, more lethal variant of HIV has shown up in Cuba. Photo: basboerman/Foter/CC BY-NC

New, more lethal variant of HIV has shown up in Cuba. Photo: basboerman/Foter/CC BY-NC

Cuban Doctors have discovered a more lethal form of HIV in some patients on that island nation.

Normally, it takes anywhere from five to 10 years for HIV to develop into full-blown AIDs. An individual’s health usually plays a role in how quickly that happens.

However, this new form of HIV is making the transition in three years and the individual’s health does not seem to be a factor.

HIV, which first attaches itself to cell co-receptors before infection, transitions to AIDs when it moves from co-receptor CCR5 to co-receptor CXDR4. This process normally takes a few years.

Doctors are concerned the disease is moving so fast that those infected will not be able to benefit from antiretrovinal drugs available to combat the disease, as it normally takes some time for people to realize they have HIV.

This new form of HIV, called CRF19, first showed up in Africa a few years back. However, there were not sufficient cases for proper testing. This variant was created when individuals contracted more than one subtype of HIV — in this instance three varieties — which then merged to create the new super strain.

Individuals contract different varieties of HIV due to unprotected sex with multiple partners. Once infected, these different varieties will combine to form new varieties of the disease called “recombinants.”

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