Viruses, especially RNA viruses - which use the RNA molecule as genetic material - tend to accumulate 'mutations', as we have now learned by studying the behavior of Sars-Cov-2. The HIV virus also changes, as reported in a study by a team of Oxford researchers, published in the journal Science. There are classifications of the HIV virus, type 1 and type 2, which in turn include different groups and subtypes. The 'HIV pandemic' is caused by group M, which belongs to the type Hiv-1.
The different groups are the product of recombinations of the different subtypes, with different geographic distributions. Oxford researchers have identified a particular variant of the subtype B, particularly virulent. Virulence is determined in terms of viral load and its effects on the population. Analyzing a sample of people who joined the Beehive Project, and monitoring the viral genome through samples, within this group the researchers identified 17 people who presented this new variant, nicknamed VB, virulent subtype B, with its highly virulent character.
Well, the viral load in the blood, relative to the acquired samples, was 3.5-5.5 times higher than the detections observed in other people infected with other types of the virus of the subtype B. This means that there is an advance 'in the aggressiveness of the virus and the risk of contracting HIV disease. HIV causes a weakening of the immune system by inducing immunosuppression, thus increasing the exposure of the infected subject to tumors and infections by bacteria and viruses.
The impact that this discovery has on a pandemic framework already compromised by the Coronavirus; is remarkable even if the good news coming from Oxford reassures in terms of good protection given by existing drugs.
The immune system is the defense of our organism, and an immune response is divided into precise steps ranging from the recognition of the potentially dangerous agent, in its identification, in the activation of the immune system, mobilizing it, encircling and attacking the antigen, allowing let the aggression be subdued. Where the body is attacked by the HIV virus, the weakening becomes immunosuppression and a real risk of aggravation of any type of associated pathology, precisely because of the absence or the feeble immune response necessary to defeat the external insult.
I am currently examining the hypotheses of the emergence of new variants of Sars-Cov2 deriving from contagion from Covid in HIV-positive patients, the consequences of which are unpredictable. The impaired immune system, when due to HIV, follows blood or sexual transmission. If treated on a case-by-case basis, today, the disease or HIV-positive disease alone is successfully kept under control.
But what could possibly happen? In this context, it is important to avoid compromising the immune system, emphasizing the expert, and pointing the finger at hyper-stimulation. The scientific world has expressed itself rigorously against induced and frequent stimulation, highly harmful, also with regard to the delicate issue of administering a fourth dose of the anti-Covid vaccine, and on the opportunity to move towards appropriate choices in health and ethical terms.