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More Cases of Aggressive HIV Detected

New York- AIDS viruses isolated from two individuals are being studied to determine whether either might be the source of a potentially more aggressive form of HIV detected in a New York City man, a scientist involved in the studies said Sunday.

Many more tests need to be conducted to determine if the strains from the three people are the same, said the scientist, Dr. David Ho. He directs the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in Manhattan, which is conducting some of the studies in collaboration with the New York Health Department. While some findings may be available in a week, others will take longer, Ho said.

But even if the strains prove to be the same, it does not necessarily mean that a supervirus is on the loose because there could be genetic factors in the first man that might make the infection progress faster.

“What we can’t prove is that this is a supervirus” and that it caused the rapid progression from infection to AIDS in the New York man, Ho said.

Tests in Ho’s laboratory and elsewhere have shown that the rare strain from the man whose case started the investigation is resistant to 19 of the 20 licensed anti-retroviral drugs. AIDS experts said that the strain may have led to the rapid onset of AIDS in the man or that his immune defenses may have been weakened by drug use or genetic factors.

Molecular tests of the man’s HIV show it has changes that appear to differ significantly from the typical strains in New York and precisely what those changes mean remains to be determined, Ho said.

Ho said his laboratory has begun testing a virus isolated from a man who was known to be HIV-infected before having sex with the New York man.

That partner probably had sex with the New York man in October, a few weeks before he became ill with what his doctors believe was the acute retroviral syndrome. It occurs in the earliest stages of HIV infection.

“He’s a potential source for this man’s case,” Ho said of the sex partner. “But he may not be.”

The second virus is from a patient in San Diego. It was found by scouring the records of a commercial laboratory, ViroLogic, Inc. of South San Francisco, and portions of its genetic make-up resemble the molecular pattern of the New York man’s virus, Ho said.

An additional man, who was a sex partner of the New York man, has declined to participate in the epidemiologic investigation, Ho said. It is not known if he is HIV-infected.

The two male contacts in New York City are among hundreds of men with whom the New York man told health officials he has had sex in recent weeks while using crystal methamphetamine.

The man who sparked the investigation is cooperating with officials but apparently does not know the names of all his partners.

Health officials have identified the man only as in his mid-40s to protect his privacy.

NY Post: BOSTON – Massachusetts doctors have reported several HIV patients with a resistance to some of the most commonly prescribed treatments, raising further concerns about a possible new, drug-resistant strain of the virus. The patients’ resistance to drug treatment is similar to a New York City case that has sparked widespread concern among public-health experts, the Boston Herald reported.

“There is global concern that there may be an increasing amount of patients who have a resistant virus,” said Dr. Gregory Robbins of Massachusetts General Hospital. AP



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