New HIV Strain Caused By Mutations, Researchers Say

As the Science Times recently reported, a new HIV strain — CRF19 — that develops into AIDS 3 times faster than the primary variants of the virus, was discovered in Cuba by Belgian scientists at the University of Leuven. According to researchers, CRF19 was caused by a mix of three different HIV strains mutating to create a sort of super-strain of HIV, which resulted in patients exhibiting AIDS symptoms in 3 years versus 10 or more.

After repeated reports of Cubans who developed AIDS in a third of the time it normally takes, researchers at the University of Leuven established a study in Cuba to obtain confirmation. Scientists discovered the new HIV strain is a mutation of HIV subtypes. Because no synthetic medications have been developed to combat this new strain, acquiring the variant can be deadly, particularly for those already infected with HIV.

The news comes approximately a year after after the last strain of HIV was discovered in West Africa, according to Inquisitr. At the time, the new HIV strain was considered aggressive as it progressed to AIDS in five years. Compared with CRF19, the 2013 variant of HIV appears weak. Shaving a full two years off of the HIV-to-AIDS timeline, CRF19 is thus far the deadliest, as patients are diagnosed with AIDS in just three years.

Statistics released by the World Health Organization in 2013 indicate there are approximately 2 million new cases of HIV globally, with a rising number of AIDS-related deaths. Since the discovery of a new HIV strain in Cuba that expedites the development of AIDS, there is a real CRF19 helps raise those numbers if medical intervention isn’t available quickly.

According to AVERT, an organization promoting HIV and AIDS awareness and education, the subtypes of HIV include four main groups, the newest being CRF’s or circulating recombinant forms. Unlike other subtypes, CRF’s develop from the mutation of two or more subtypes. In the case of CRF19, the HIV subtypes A, D, and G were identified as the three types found in the mutation after a study of 73 patients.

Because Cuba is an island, conditions are not favorable for worldwide transmission of this particular variant; however, there is nothing stopping the same HIV subtypes from mutating elsewhere. Public health experts and infectious disease specialists are in the process of uncovering more information about this new HIV strain and the best way to combat its effects medically.