posted on Feb, 14 2005 @ 08:38 AM
Just read from a news service, troubling stuff!!
Vicious new AIDS strain
World's first case of drug-resistant strain found here
BY FRANK LOMBARDI
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden uses charts yesterday to explain devastating impact of newly discovered HIV superstrain that can evolve into
full-blown AIDS in only two months.
What you need to know
A previously unknown superstrain of the virus that causes AIDS has been diagnosed in the city, sparking fears among health officials and the gay
So far only one case has been found in the world - a New York man in his mid-40s who had unprotected sex with multiple men in October.
City and federal experts believe it's the first time this mutated strain of HIV has been reported anywhere.
It is virtually drug-resistant and progresses in a matter of months from HIV infection to full-blown AIDS, a process that normally takes 10 or more
years. In this man's case it took only two months.
"I've been living with HIV since 1981, and I was dreading this day, because I knew this day would come when multidrug-resistant strains of the virus
would begin to enter into the community," said Dennis de Leon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS.
The virus is known technically as a strain of three-class antiretroviral-resistant HIV, or 3-DCR HIV. Simply put, that means it's resistant to three
of the four classes of drugs used to treat HIV.
Usually a cocktail of drugs from the four classes is needed to keep the virus in check.
Those most vulnerable to the virus would be gays and intravenous drug users who share needles. But it could easily spread to the heterosexual
"Potentially, no one is immune," city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said.
The new superstrain virus can turn into AIDS in two to 20 months, Frieden said.
The man diagnosed with the virus, who is not being identified by officials, has AIDS and his prognosis is bleak.
An intense investigation is underway to located his sex partners to track the source of the virus and stem its possible spread.
The infected man had repeatedly tested negative for HIV over the past decade, including as late as May 2003.
Last October he was involved in "multiple episodes with multiple partners" of unprotected sex while binging on crystal methamphetamine, a popular
party drug known as the poor man's coc aine, Frieden said.
In December the man developed flulike symptoms and his doctor diagnosed HIV. Further tests by the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in Manhattan
turned up the superstrain virus.
Jay Dobkin, medical director of the AIDS Center at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, said:
"Many of us here remember the dark days before there was any effective treatment for HIV, and I think ... [this] should at least be a reminder that
those days could come back."
Frieden and a battery of local HIV/AIDS experts said the best way for people to combat the new strain is to practice safe sex and be tested regularly
for HIV. Anti-retroviral medications have helped to sharply reduce the number of deaths in the city related to HIV. At the peak of the AIDS epidemic
there were 7,102 deaths in the city in 1994, compared with 1,656 in 2003.
Advocates for the gay community said this is a wakeup call about the complacency created by breakthrough treatments.
"It debunks that sense of false comfort we were resting on," said Ana Oliveira, executive director of Gay Men's Health Crisis.
There are more than 88,000 New Yorkers who know they have HIV, the city Health Department says, and it's estimated another 20,000 have it and don't
know it because they haven't been tested.
What you need to know
How is this new strain different from previously known strains of HIV?
The time between infection and developing full-blown AIDS appears to be two to three months, as opposed to years. The new strain is also resistant to
three of the four types of drugs currently used to treat HIV/AIDS.
Can it be treated?
No. Because this strain is multi-drug resistant, the relatively effective "cocktail" treatment of drugs cannot be used.
How many people have been diagnosed with the new strain?
So far, only one - a gay man in his mid-40s.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who has unprotected sex, especially unprotected anal sex, which increases the odds of transmitting all types of sexually transmitted
Could this be the start of a new epidemic?
Yes. But it also could be an isolated incident.
Originally published on February 11, 2005