A more aggressive variant of HIV is discovered in Cuba
A team of researchers from KU Leuven’s Laboratory for Clinical and Epidemiological Virology have found a much more aggressive strain of HIV in Cuba, with a much shorter than usual dormancy period: only three years.
Their concern was heightened by various centers in the area –“We have a coop-project with Cuba and the Cuban clinics noticed that they recently had increasingly more patients developing AIDS more quickly than usual. In this case, many of the patients were developing the illness, even before they were diagnosed”, Voice of America professor Anne-Mieke Vandamm, one of those in charge of the investigation, explained. The team decided to carry out a study in which nearly 90 people –divided in three groups—participated; one of the groups was formed by those in which the illness had progressed very quickly.
The results revealed that those in which the illness had developed with unusual speed had been infected with a strain of the virus, a combination of subtypes A, D and G, known as CRF19, previously observed in Africa, though much less extended than in Cuba. According to that contained in their work, published in EBioMedicine, with regards to the patient, the main consequence is the reduction of the period covering from the time that the patient is infected (infected with HIV) to the time that the illness (known as Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS) is developed, from an average of between 5 or 10 years to the 3 in which it takes to develop in the case of the Cuban variant.
Between 2008 and 2011, between 1,200 and 1,800 individuals were diagnosed with HIV in Cuba each year; from 13 to 16 percent of them had AIDS when the diagnosis was performed, according to the data published by the team of researchers at EBioMedicine.