Scientists Find a More Aggressive Variant of HIV in Cuba

El Virus de la Inmunodeficiencia Humana. (Flickr)
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus. (Flickr)

A team of researchers from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana have discovered a new strain of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) present on the island, according to a study published in the scientific journal scientific EBioMedicine. This variant, native to Africa, accelerates the time in which the infected person develops AIDS.

Through the monitoring of 95 patients who received treatment at the Havana institute since 2007, scientists detected that those infected with this strain showed a high amount of virus in their blood and progressed to AIDS at a much faster rate than average, the average being between 6 and 10 years. The study suggests that each year between 13% and 16% of patients diagnosed in Cuba already had AIDS at the time their infection was detected.

Each year between 13% and 16% of patients diagnosed in Cuba already had AIDS at the time their infection was detected

Scientists relate the rapid development of AIDS in Cuba to other factors as well, such as a low use of condoms, often unavailable in the pharmacies, and other diseases such as oral candidiasis.

In Cuba, 19,781 new cases of HIV infections were diagnosed between 1986 and 2014, according to a report by the Island’s government.

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