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HIV Strains Becoming More Aggressive. What Does This Mean?


(AUDIO) In a brief podcast, the director of the University of North Carolina infectious diseases center ponders the implications of new HIV strains that lead to AIDS symptoms significantly faster than in the past. To him, the response is obvious. What troubles him is that not everyone seems to sense the urgency

A new strain of HIV, identified recently in West Africa. leads to significantly faster development of AIDS. In fact, observers have noted that in general newer strains of HIV seem to be more aggressive than strains from which they developed.

What are the implications for HIV control worldwide, and for individual patients infected with the virus? The answer isn't complicated, says Dr. Myron Cohen in this brief recorded interview. In fact, in speaking about the issue he becomes ever more animated, progressing from a dispassionate description of the recent research to a heartfelt expression of dismay that not all nations have reached the obvious conclusion. For your own practice and patients, he says, the implications are quite straightforward.

Dr. Cohen is Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

The questions:

Can you explain what's going and what are the implications for clinicians?

So in some ways the growing prevalence of these clades just reinforces the need for immediate treatment?

Key quotes:

"We've known for a long time that there are multiple different strains of HIV... these are not all created equal."

"It's interesting from a pathogenesis point of view, but the solution is the same in every case."

"If you believe that you have the luxury of waiting until the CD4 count falls, with the notion that it will fall slowly, that luxury doesn't really exist. ... If some of the clades are developing the ability to lead to more rapid progression, it just redoubles the need to test people, and when they test positive ... offer immediate treatment."

"All roads now lead in the same direction. The frustrating thing to me is that this debate can continue."

"The problem is it will take time for patients to realize that they need immediate treatment. The've had generations of being told 'Don't worry and come back in a few years.' That's going to have to be overcome."

HIV Strains Becoming More Aggressive. What Does This Mean?

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