28 November 2007
Thai HIV Subtype The Deadliest
by George Atkinson
A study in the journal AIDS, by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has found that people infected with HIV in Thailand die from the disease significantly sooner than HIV positive people in other parts of the world. The researchers speculate that HIV subtype E, which is the most common HIV strain in Thailand, may be more virulent than other subtypes of the virus.
The findings were based on 228 male army recruits who were followed over a 14-year period. All of the men were HIV-negative when they enrolled in the study. The researchers compared the group of Thai men to a group of similar HIV-positive men living in North America and Europe who were included in another study. The median time from HIV infection to death for the Thai men was 7.8 years compared to 11 years for HIV-positive men living in North America and Europe. The survival rate for the Thai men was also lower than studies of similar populations living in low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
"We were surprised to learn that the young military recruits from Thailand appeared to develop AIDS more quickly and have shorter survival after their HIV infection than persons in Africa," said lead author Ram Rangsin. "Fortunately, the men who have survived after their infection are now receiving treatment with effective antiviral drugs and doing very well."
"If we could understand better the virulence characteristics of these viruses, we might learn something more about why those with HIV infection progress to AIDS, usually many years after they are infected," added study co-author Kenrad E. Nelson.
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