In a study of 33 HIV+ couples who engaged in frequent, unprotected sex, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology researchers found no evidence of superinfection, the sequential acquisition of multiple HIV variants.
HIV is a highly mutable virus encompassing two quite different types around the world, HIV-1 and HIV-2. Within those types there are variations known as "subclades" that are typically subdivided further into genetically differentiated strains. The epidemic in the U.S. consists almost entirely of a single subclade, HIV-1B, while HIV epidemics in other parts of the world involve a mix of subclades. In the study, researchers investigated potential superinfection involving variations within HIV-1B. In 28 of the 33 couples, each participant was infected with a strain of HIV-1B that was genetically different than that of the persons partner, and the 28 couples were particularly relevant for these preliminary results.
The findings, presented at the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok on July 15, call into question the widely held perception that people with HIV-1 are highly susceptible to additional infection by HIV-1 variants that may be drug-resistant or more virulent, says lead investigator Robert Grant, MD, MPH, a Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology scientist. The study presentation was titled, "No superinfection among seroconcordant couples after well-defined exposure."
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