Tests Pending in Cases Tied to Fierce HIV
Tests Pending in Cases Tied to Fierce HIVNew York Times (03.30.05): Marc Santora
On Tuesday, New York City health officials said they have identified several patients who may have a strain of HIV related to a virulent variety detected in a gay New Yorker, but they cannot say whether the cases are connected. It could be months before tests determine if others have been infected with the strain, the officials said.
On Feb. 11, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced the case of a gay man in his late 40s who had unsafe sex with many partners while using crystal methamphetamine, and whose HIV infection progressed quickly and was resistant to many drugs. Investigators have since traced all the sex partners the man could remember by name, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, health commissioner. More than a dozen men were tracked down, said a source familiar with the investigation, but since the man could not remember the names of many of the more than 100 people with whom he had sex, contact tracing may be of limited value. Of those contacted by the department, many were previously infected with HIV.
Testing of the strains is ongoing; Frieden declined to say exactly how those being tested were found. Some may have been discovered through contact tracing, while others may have been found in the department's canvassing of HIV testing and research labs. Frieden said CDC and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center are working to sequence the genome of the possibly related cases. Diamond Center researchers have published a genetic study showing the initial strain to be unusually aggressive.
Officials did not say whether the man transmitted the strain to his sexual partners. "As of today, no other cases of multi-drug-class resistant, rapidly progressive HIV have been identified," officials said, but that does not mean that no other cases exist.
The officials said the initial New York patient now seems to be responding to treatment that includes two licensed drugs, though he remains seriously ill.
S. Alex Williams
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