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AIDS virus weakening?

A team at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, in Antwerp, Belgium, has carried out a comparison of HIV-I samples from 1986-89 and 2002-03 (12 samples from each time period). They found the newer samples appeared not to multiply as well, and were more sensitive to drugs. These results are in contrast to other studies which have found the virus is becoming more resistant.

The researchers, writing in the journal AIDS, stressed that their work in no way meant efforts to prevent the spread of HIV should be scaled down.

Researcher Dr Eric Artz said: 'This was a very preliminary study, but we did find a striking observation in that the viruses from the 2000s are much weaker than the viruses from the 1980s.

'Obviously this virus is still causing death, although it may be causing death at a slower rate of progression now. Maybe in another 50 to 60 years we might see this virus not causing death.'

'What appears to be happening is that by the time HIV passes from one person to another, it has already toned down some of its most pathogenic effects in response to its host's immune system, so the virus that is passed on is less "fit" each time. This would suggest that over several generations, HIV could become less harmful to its human hosts.

'However, we are still far from that point--HIV is still a life-threatening infection.'

Arien KK. Troyer RM, Gali Y et al. Replicative fitness of historical and recent HIV-1 isolates suggests HIV-1 attenuation over time. AIDS 2005: 19: 1555-1564.
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Title Annotation:Worldwide news
Publication:International Midwifery
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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