As if HIV/AIDS wasn’t bad enough, it has managed to get worse. Right when the United States mends its fractured relationship with Cuba, a new, more powerful strain of HIV has been discovered there that can change into AIDS before a patient even knows he or she is infected. The aggressive strain of HIV can develop into full-blown AIDS in a three year period, whereas this process usually takes from five to ten years.
All of the infected patients had recently contracted HIV, evidenced by the fact that they were HIV-negative one to two years prior. The New York Daily News reports:
HIV develops into AIDS when a person’s CD4 count, which reflects white blood cells, falls below 200 or the patient gets a disease that wouldn’t affect someone with a healthy immune system.
95 recently infected Cubans were examined by medical professionals and the new HIV strain was identified in the small group that who developed AIDS at a rapid pace. It is reported that this new strain is a combination of three subtypes of HIV. These subtypes then combine in the body of the infected person.
This strain of HIV has been seen in HIV/AIDS ravaged Africa, but it is believed to be more widespread on the island of Cuba. It is said to be responsive to medications used to fight the virus, but (as stated before) the fact that it can morph into AIDS so quickly means that many will not be aware that they are infected until it becomes AIDS.