AIDS 'super bug' diagnosed in New York

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Stylized rendering of a cross-section of the HIV (AIDS) virus.source:NIH

New York — A drug-resistant and quick-acting form of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been detected in New York City, according to officials.

Although diagnosed in only one man so far, this mutated version of the virus progresses to AIDS faster than other forms of HIV, officials said. Diagnosed with HIV in mid-October, the unnamed New York City man developed the full-blown form AIDS by mid-January. Normally HIV infection can take up to 10 years to develop into AIDS.

Dr. Ronald O. Valdiserri, the director of HIV/AIDS prevention at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), told the New York Times this new strain of virus is unique because of the rapid progression of the disease and its resistance to multiple AIDS drug regimens. Although the New York case appears to be isolated at this time, the CDC has sent a nation-wide alert to health departments in every state.

"It appears this individual has contracted a new, particularly virulent strain of HIV that swiftly advanced to AIDS in just a few short months," Charles Farthing, MD, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Chief of Medicine said in a press release. "Unfortunately, it also seems that few of the AIDS treatments currently available today can be used in his case, as this particular strain of infection appears to be resistant to most known AIDS drugs."

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, urged all newly-diagnosed HIV patients to get tested to see if they have this new form of the virus. He also said all sexually active people should be tested for the HI virus.

New York health officials said they estimate that about 88,000 New Yorkers have HIV infection or AIDS and that an additional 20,000 are infected but unaware of their condition.