Friday, February 11, 2005

NYC Health Officials Find New, Virulent HIV Strain (Update7)

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- New York City doctors have discovered a man with a previously unseen strain of HIV that is resistant to three of the four types of anti-viral drugs that combat the disease, and progresses from infection to full-blown AIDS in two or three months, the health department said.

``We've identified this strain of HIV that is difficult or impossible to treat and which appears to progress rapidly to AIDS,'' said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden. ``We have not seen a case like this before. It holds the potential for a very serious public health problem.''

The case was diagnosed in a New Yorker in his mid-40s who reported multiple male sex partners and unprotected anal sex -- often while using the drug crystal methamphetamine.

``It is likely there are others infected with this strain and this individual has infected others,'' Frieden said. The case is ``extremely concerning and a wake-up call,'' he said.

Antonio Urbina, medical director of HIV education and training at St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center, site of one of Manhattan's largest AIDS clinics, said the patient's use of crystal methamphetamine shows that the drug ``continues to play a significant role in facilitating the transmission of HIV.'' The drug reduces peoples' inhibitions and their likelihood of using condoms or other forms of safe sex, he said.


While drug resistance is increasingly common among patients who have been treated for HIV, cases of three-class antiretroviral-resistant HIV -- or 3-DCR HIV -- in newly diagnosed, previously untreated patients are extremely rare, and the combination of this pattern of drug resistance and rapid progression to AIDS may not have been seen previously, the health department said in a news release.

The strain found in New York was ``highly unusual,'' said Ronald Valdiserri, 53, deputy director of the National Center for HIV, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Tuberculosis at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview.

Read the rest here.

Not good news!

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