A team of scientists from the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, detected a more transmissible variant of HIV that would have circulated in the Netherlands in recent decades.
Despite being more contagious and virulent (it produces a higher viral load), experts pointed out that people who contract the variant, identified as BV, have a survival rate similar to those who get other types of HIV as long as they receive timely medical treatment.
in an article published in the journal Science, the specialists pointed out that the variant produces a faster decrease in CD4 white blood cells, so that a person infected with BV is more likely to develop AIDS more quickly.
The variant was identified after analyzing data from a cohort of more than 6,700 seropositives from the BEEHIVE project, a study that collects HIV cases in several European countries.
In their study, they detailed that people infected with BV showed a viral load between 3.5 and 5.5 times higher than those infected with other variants. Experts stress that it has more than 500 mutations in the virus genome.
Cristophe Fraser, one of the researchers from the University of Oxford who led the study, stressed that the finding of the VB variant, its aggressiveness and the possibility of survival when receiving timely treatment, underlines the importance of guaranteeing access to retrovirals.
“It underlines the importance of the provisions of the World Health Organization, that people at risk of contracting HIV have access to constant tests for early diagnosis, followed by immediate treatment,” said the specialist.