2 years ago
Goyo
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HIV evolving 'into milder form'
An Oxford University team has found that HIV is gradually evolving into a less potent virus, and ultimately may “become almost harmless.” They made these conclusions after noticing that HIV found in people from Botswana, which has had an HIV problem for a long time, and South Africa, where HIV arrived a decade later, were significantly different. The reason? When the virus invades the body of a person with a strong immune system, it decides that it must adapt. In adapting, however, it does so in a manner that actually leaves the virus weakened and slower, i.e. it spreads at a much slower pace. The then weakened virus is transmitted to another person creating a cycle where weakened versions of the virus are transmitted. I, however, hesitated when I read this. I hesitated when I even started thinking about writing this. So many people have lost their lives thanks to HIV. So many could have been saved if the stigma that surrounded it had not prevented many from getting tested. We are now at a stage that people are now more open about the disease, and are getting treatment that is proving effective in, at least, delaying the progression into full-blown AIDS (thanks to people like Magic Johnson). So then why did I hesitate to write this post that cites studies now show that HIV may be evolving into a much less potent virus? So while this is great news, I do worry about people misunderstanding this as reason to believe that they should not consider HIV as dangerous as before. It will take, at least, an entire generation before the virus is rendered harmless. There will be many people who say that I may be acting paranoid (and I am), but with these types of diseases I feel I should be. People already have a hard time taking HIV precautions seriously in so many parts of the world, even while it is considered such a deadly disease. Now upon hearing news such as these, what do you think their attitude will be like? I worry for those kids that think this disease could never touch them... I am glad that things are improving. I just hope that people continue (and in many parts of the world, start) taking HIV precautions very seriously.
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HIV and AIDS have affected so many lives over the years because a lack of awareness about the effects of the disease and how it is transmitted. It attacks a person's immune system so many people didn't realize the common illness the had would kill them because of the virus's affect on the immune system. Although antiretroviral treatment has come a long way in the past decade and people can now live a relatively normal lifestyle, the fact still remains that it is a contagious, life long disease. Until the virus will not take years off your life, awareness should be spread and treatment should be given.
2 years ago·Reply
10
It is always good news to see a virus that has affected so many people start to lose its grip. We're no where close to seeing the end of the pain it causes, but I hope this discovery will inspire further focused research to really end this disease.
2 years ago·Reply
10
@nokcha I think that is the key. Rather than taking these news as we are done, I hope these news are taken more as "we are getting there." @dillonk I hope that awareness, which is shockingly absent in places such as my hometown, really does continue to increase. It is only through awareness that people will look for treatment and will teach prevention methods.
2 years ago·Reply
Incredible update. Thanks for sharing @goyo. I wonder, too, if HIV is also being hampered to slow down in part because many deemed high-risk (that are currently HIV negative), are on PReP, which is a single daily dose pill that prevents the virus from attaching with 94% efficacy in published clinical trials over the past several years. A friend of mine just disclosed that he recently tested positive. However, his viral load is only at 24. Any number less than 60 is considered "undetectable." This is almost unbelievable because newly-infected persons have extremely high viral loads. I say all this to say that this article may be even more true than we know.
2 years ago·Reply
@marshalledgar thanks for sharing that information. I definitely did not know that much about viral loads or PReP...
2 years ago·Reply