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New HIV Variant More Transmissible And Damaging: UNAIDS

The UNAIDS has called for an urgent scaling up of HIV treatment and testing at a global level to ensure the newly discovered sub-type do not spread to the level of crippling the global health system.

According to a recent research from the Netherlands, the new HIV variant is a more transmissible and damaging variant and people living with the newly revealed HIV subtype experience double the rate of immune system decline (CD4 count) and have higher HIV viral loads (amount of virus in the blood) as well as increased vulnerability to developing AIDS two to three times faster after diagnosis than if they were living with other strains of the virus.

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Eamonn Murphy said there is need to deploy cutting-edge medical innovations in ways that reach the communities most in need whether it’s HIV treatment or COVID-19 vaccines.

“Ten million people living with HIV worldwide are not yet on treatment, fueling the continued spread of the virus and potential for further variants,” said Murphy.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, was the first to discover the subtype-B of the virus. The study also revealed that the variant has been circulating in the Netherlands for years and remains receptive to HIV treatment.

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HIV pandemic continues to take a life every minute and scientists have long worried about the evolution of new, more transmissible, variants of HIV. This newly identified variant does not represent a major public health threat but underscores the urgency of speeding up efforts to halt the HIV pandemic.

HIV remains the deadliest pandemic of our time—an estimated 79 million people have become infected with the virus, for which there is still no vaccine and no cure. Some 36 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the pandemic and 1.5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2020.

Of the 38 million people living with HIV today, 28 million are on life-saving antiretroviral therapy, keeping them alive and well and preventing transmission of the virus.

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