Tags: HIV | AIDS | study | infectious

Study: HIV May Be Becoming Less Infectious

By    |   Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014 02:36 PM

The HIV virus may be becoming less infectious, meaning it is taking a lot longer for the virus to become AIDS, and this is especially the case in countries where the virus is most prominent, such as Botswana and South Africa.

According to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the virus seems to be mutating in such a way that it is harder for it to duplicate itself in a person's body and as a result it is weakening, The Washington Post is reporting.

This gives those who have been infected with HIV a larger window in which they can begin treatment, increasing their chances of survival. This may also take a toll on the number of new infections.

Scientists say that this effect, in which mutations of the virus becomes weaker, is expected, but they are surprised that it has happened so quickly — in mere decades.

"I'm totally amazed that you can see this effect so quickly," Phillip Goulder, the lead scientist in the study and professor at Oxford University, told the Post.

"You wouldn't expect an effect like this to be evident in an incredibly small amount of time," Goulder explained.

"This difference is happening so quickly in the locations where you have the greatest impact of the virus," he said.

As the virus has adapted to a protein that some people carry, the HLA-B-57, it has also weakened HIV's ability to replicate.

"What B-57 is doing is creating a virus that is relatively crippled," the lead researcher explained, adding that "the parts of the virus that it targets are the parts of the virus that can't really change without losing some ability to replicate efficiently."

Researchers looked at the HIV virus in Botswana and compared it to South Africa. Botswana was hit with the HIV virus earlier than South Africa.

Botswana has not benefited from the HLA B-57 protein like those in South Africa, but it has adopted antiretroviral therapies, which have also helped to weaken HIV.

According to Goulder, "the normal time to AIDS is about 10 years, and this difference in the ability of the virus to cause disease probably means that there's a 25 percent increase of the the amount of time to AIDS."

"So it probably means about 12 years," he added.

Although a two-year increase in the amount of time to develop AIDS may seem small, researchers contend that overtime, the delay in the development of AIDS will start to add up.

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The HIV virus may be becoming less infectious, meaning it is taking a lot longer for the virus to become AIDS, and this is especially the case in countries where the virus is most prominent, such as Botswana and South Africa.
HIV, AIDS, study, infectious
418
2014-36-03
Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014 02:36 PM
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