HIV Getting Weaker Over Time, Researchers Suggest
the MPR take:
Scientists at the University of Oxford suggest that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is becoming weaker as it evolves, potentially becoming an “almost harmless” virus. HIV can mutate and adapt to a body’s immune system, but antiretroviral drugs could be forcing HIV to evolve into milder forms. If the virus encounters a strong immune system, it is forced to reduce its ability to replicate; this leads to the virus becoming less infectious and taking a longer amount of time to cause AIDS. Professor Philip Goulder, one of the lead authors of a study on the virus published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, notes that the time from HIV infection to AIDS was at one time 10 years; now, it has increased to 12.5 years. This incremental change could be a positive sign that antiretroviral medications are also contributing to the evolution of HIV into milder forms. However, HIV still remains an epidemic and these findings should not be viewed as an indication that the virus is presently harmless or that prevention and treatment are unnecessary.
HIV is evolving to become less deadly and less infectious, according to a major scientific study. The team at the University of Oxford shows the virus is being "watered down" as it adapts to our immune systems. More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV and inside their bodies a devastating battle takes place between the immune system and the virus.
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