- BOSTON (Reuters) - Doctors
said Wednesday they have documented a case of "superinfection"
with the AIDS virus, in which the person became infected with a second
strain of the virus while still fighting an initial infection.
- The discovery, described in Thursday's New England Journal
of Medicine, suggested that finding a vaccine against the deadly immunity
disease may be more difficult than some have thought.
- It also means that people with HIV, the AIDS virus, should
avoid getting reinfected, otherwise they risk being exposed to a second
strain that will make the disease even harder to treat, doctors said.
- "Superinfection may precipitate more rapid progression
of the disease," said Drs. Philip Goulder and Bruce Walker of Massachusetts
General Hospital, in an editorial in the Journal.
- "Infected and noninfected persons should therefore
exercise the same degree of vigilance to prevent HIV-1 exposure,"
- Because sexual activity seems to be increasing among
people infected with HIV, they added, "this is a public health message
that needs to be broadcast loud and clear."
- Until now doctors had hoped that infection with one strain
of HIV would protect the body from other strains, which would make it easier
to develop a vaccine. More than a dozen strains of the virus have been
detected around the world.
- But a team led by Stephanie Jost of the University of
Geneva uncovered the case of a 38-year-old man who developed a second HIV
infection on top of the first.
- That discovery, said Goulder and Walker, provided "convincing
evidence that HIV-1 superinfection can occur long after an initial infection
- Because strains of HIV can vary significantly, they said,
finding a vaccine against the various forms of the virus "is likely
to be a formidable task."
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