Archive for November 29th, 2013

November 29, 2013

Super AIDS

super aids

Super AIDS is an informal name for multidrug resistant strains of HIV-1, first found in NYC in 2005. The strain is vulnerable to enfuvirtide (a drug from a novel class of antiretrovirals). In 2006, provisional data indicated that 15% of new infections were resistant to one antiretroviral drug, and 3.2% to two such drugs. As a result the Department of Health and Human Services changed its guidelines to recommend testing for drug resistance before beginning antiretroviral treatment in new patients.

Typically, the ‘wild’ type of HIV (the strain of HIV found in individuals not treated with antiretroviral drugs) is much more effective at attacking the human immune system than the types that evolve in the presence of antiretroviral drugs. Thus, by changing the selection pressure (from being infection driven to being drug-avoidance driven) retroviral drug treatment causes HIV to evolve to a more innocuous form, less efficient at infecting T-cells. Super AIDS strains, however, are not only resistant to anti-retroviral drugs, but more effective than ‘wild’ HIV at infecting T-cells.