Researchers have discovered a new, more aggressive strain of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that develops into AIDS much more quickly than other strains, Medical News Today reported.
In a new study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, scientists detailed the new strain as a “recombinant” virus – a hybrid of two virus strains. Called A3/02 – a cross between the 02AG and A3 viruses – the strain can develop into AIDS in just five years after first infection – one of the shortest time periods for HIV-1 types.
"Recombinants seem to be more vigorous and more aggressive than the strains from which they developed,” said first author Angelica Palm, a doctoral candidate at Lund University in Sweden.
So far, the A3/02 strain has only been seen in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, but other studies have shown that recombinants are spreading more quickly across the globe.
"HIV is an extremely dynamic and variable virus. New subtypes and recombinant forms of HIV-1 have been introduced to our part of the world, and it is highly likely that there are a large number of circulating recombinants of which we know little or nothing,” said senior author Patrik Medstran, professor of clinical virology at Lund University. “We therefore need to be aware of how the HIV-1 epidemic changes over time."