New, more transmissible and aggressive HIV variant identified

Today, 38 million people live with HIV: a total of 28 million are in antiretroviral treatment. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Research published by the University of Oxford showed that a variant of HIV, identified as BV, found in patients in the Netherlands, is more transmissible and harmful to health. A person dies every minute in the world of HIV according to UNAIDS (a UN program established in 1996, whose function is to create solutions and help nations in the fight against AIDS).
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According to Ricardo Vasconcelos, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Hospital das Clínicas, Faculty of Medicine, USP, this is because “HIV has mutated in its original genetic material, and these mutations, which are more than 300, somehow modified the proteins , which the virus uses to replicate itself.The change allowed him to become more agile, which made it possible, when he infected a person, to reach higher viral load and make more copies of HIV in the body.This causes the disease to develop faster than usual. The higher the viral load, the greater the transmissibility of the person. ” There is still no information on whether this variant has arrived in Brazil, but it has already been possible to verify that, despite its aggressiveness, it responds well to existing treatments.

Difficulty attaching to treatment

Nowadays, 38 million people live with HIV. Of these, 28 million are in antiretroviral treatment. Since the 1990s, in addition to new drugs, retroviral drugs have been used in treatment. For the infectious disease doctor, it is not that difficult to limit the disease, but it is more complicated to be able to diagnose everyone and limit the epidemic. “The difficulty is getting people with HIV to test themselves and face all the discrimination and serophobia that exists in the world and remains associated with treatment, healthcare, consultations, exams. That is the difficulty. When a person manages to go through all these stages , there are no difficulties. ”

The infectious disease specialist dares to say that “discrimination, prejudice, homophobia and transphobia, social inequality and machismo cause far more obstacles for us to control the HIV pandemic than a genetic variant, because all methods of preventing, diagnosing and treating HIV . that already exist are available, work for this variant, we just need to be able to put it into practice. “According to UNAIDS, an estimated 79 million people have been infected by the virus, which still has no vaccine or cure. Since the beginning of the pandemic About 36 million people have died of AIDS-related diseases, and one and a half million were recently infected with HIV by 2020.

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* Watch the full interview with Professor Ricardo Vasconcelos USP Newspaper in the Air access to the link available at original case.

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