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Yes, There is a New Strain of HIV. And No, It’s Not Cause for Alarm.

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published earlier this week in the journal, Science.Though the newly identified “VB variant” is easier to transmit and does indeed attack the immune system at a faster rate than other strains, researchers believe that the variant has actually been around since the 1990 but primariliy localized to the Netherlands region.

In addition, despite the strain’s aggressive nature, it is still easily controlled by current HIV medications.The strain was discovered while researchers were looking at data and blood samples from people living with HIV in Europe and Uganda who are participating in a study called the BEEHIVE project.

After noticing that a few people had unusually high viral loads after their diagnoses, they eventually located other participants with genetically similar HIV.Ultimately  the researchers determined that people carrying the VB variant experienced a 3.5- to 5.5-fold increase in viral load compared with 6,604 participants in the study who had a different strain.

They also discovered that the strain was more virulent, or dangerous. In the participants who had the VB variant, their CD4 cells declined twice as fast.

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