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Aids super virus?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion (Work-safe)' started by BuckeyeSoldier, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. BuckeyeSoldier

    BuckeyeSoldier 2 time Reigning BuckeyePlanet Poker Champion

    Search for Origin of New AIDS Strain Widens

    </NYT_HEADLINE><NYT_BYLINE version="1.0" type=" ">[size=-1]By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN [/size]
    Published: February 14, 2005


    [​IMG]IDS viruses isolated from two people are being studied to determine whether either might be the source of a rare and potentially more aggressive form of H.I.V. detected in a New York City man, an AIDS scientist involved in the studies said yesterday.

    Many more tests need to be conducted to determine if the strains from the three people are the same, said the scientist, Dr. David Ho. He directs the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in Manhattan, which is conducting some of the studies in collaboration with the New York City health department. While some findings may be available in a week, others will take longer, Dr. Ho said in an interview.

    Even if the strains prove to be the same, that would not necessarily mean that a supervirus is on the loose, since there could be genetic factors in the first man that would make his infection progress faster.

    "What we can't prove is that this is a supervirus" and that it caused the rapid progression from infection to AIDS in the New York City man, Dr. Ho said.

    Laboratory tests in Dr. Ho's laboratory and elsewhere have shown that the strain from the man whose case started the investigation is resistant to 19 of the 20 licensed anti-retroviral drugs. AIDS experts said that the strain might have led to the rapid onset of AIDS in the man or that his immune defenses might have been weakened by drug use or genetics.

    Molecular tests of the man's H.I.V. show it has changes that appear to differ significantly from the typical strains being circulated in New York City, and precisely what those changes mean remains to be determined, Dr. Ho said.

    Dr. Ho said his laboratory has begun testing a virus that was isolated from a man who was known to be H.I.V.-infected before he became a sex partner of the New York City man.

    That partner probably had sex with the New York City man in October, a few weeks before the New York City man became ill with what his doctors believe was the acute retroviral syndrome. It occurs in the earliest stages of H.I.V. infection.

    The partner is "a potential source for this man's case," Dr. Ho said. "But he may not be."

    The second virus is from an unidentified patient in San Diego who was apparently infected before the New York City man. It was found by scouring the records of a commercial laboratory, ViroLogic Inc. of South San Francisco, and portions of its genetic makeup closely resemble the molecular pattern of the New York City man's virus, Dr. Ho said.

    Dr. Ho's team sent the partner's virus to ViroLogic for testing. Doctors from around the country send thousands of H.I.V. specimens to the company for testing.

    An additional man who was a sex partner of the New York City man has declined to participate in the epidemiologic investigation, Dr. Ho said. It is not known if he is H.I.V.-infected.

    The two male contacts in New York City, only one of whom is cooperating with the investigation, are among hundreds of men with whom the New York City man told health officials he has had sex in recent weeks while using crystal methamphetamine. The New York man who sparked the investigation is cooperating with city health officials but apparently does not know the names of all his partners.

    The health department is trying to trace as many of his sex contacts as can be ascertained. To protect his privacy, health officials have identified him only as in his mid-40's.

    So far, city health workers have reached "about a dozen" of the man's contacts, said Sandra Mullin, director of communications for the health department. She said she did not know how many contacts have agreed to donate specimens for testing and, if so, what the findings were.

    Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency in Atlanta, said that they have notified health departments elsewhere. While the agency is aiding in the investigation, the city is taking the lead, said Dr. Ronald O. Valdiserri, the director of H.I.V./AIDS prevention at the agency.

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