If there’s anything COVID-19 taught us, it’s how we should always be on alert for new variants coming up. We now know viruses can mutate and change their forms to become something else – dangerous.
From Beta, Gamma, Delta, Omicron, we really know better!
Just like COVID-19 which has seen a number of variants coming up in the last two years, HIV – a virus causing AIDS seems to have the same properties and capabilities to mutate and bring about new variants.
This was revealed by Oxford University scientists last Friday after discovering that there was a new variant of HIV spreading like an inferno in Europe.
Now, Let Us Explain This In Layman’s Language
This new variant has since been named VB which means virulent subtype B. This is because of its extreme virulence properties or how rapid it progresses to cause the disease.
A retrospective study (a study that looked back into the already available data of HIV patients) of the virus confirmed that only 109 HIV patients who happen to be of Dutch origin have so far been affected by the variant.
This, however, does not mean the virus has not yet spread across the globe, scientists fear. It also does not mean that the virus is ‘new’.
What VB Does
People affected by HIV normally have viral loads of 100,000 copies on avarage. (This means the virus can only make 100, 000 copies of itself on avarage). VB on the other hand makes copies of itself 3.3 to 5 times more that the normal spread.
CD4 cells (the white blood cells which can fight the HIV virus) of someone affected by this variant get killed and decrease drastically over a short period of time.
VB Progresses To AIDS Faster
And this can cause someone to get AIDS faster than as usually.
The study revealed that for someone in their 30s, it can just take no longer than 9 months for the virus to progress to AIDS.
It normally took between 2 to 7 years for someone who has been diagnosed with the previous HIV variant to be declared an AIDS patient.
Treatment Is Already Available
Despite how dangerous the virus has been described to be, researchers have assured the public that this new variant can be treated easily with the already available antiretroviral therapy treatments (ART).
ART has been one of the effective ways to repress or reduce the level at which the virus spread in the body.
Since the VB variant multiplies faster in the body. It important for people to get early detections of the virus before it progresses to AIDS. That way, ART treatment can work effectively.
Public Not To Worry
The author of the said study, senior researcher Chris Waymant of University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute has repeatedly been quoted saying that there is no need for the public to panic and worry about the new variant.
The reason being that there already exist treatment therapies across the globe. With regular testing and early diagnosis – one can get early treatment and not face the dangers of the new variant.
Some countries have not yet discovered the virus, hence, the public has no need to panic.