UNAIDS reports identification of fast-spreading HIV variant

15 February 2022

Article: 56/603

On 7 February 2022, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reported that newly published research from the Netherlands has revealed the existence of a more transmissible and damaging variant of HIV. 

People living with the newly revealed HIV subtype have experienced double the rate of immune system decline (CD4 count), have higher HIV viral loads, and are vulnerable to developing AIDS two to three times faster after diagnosis than if they were living with other strains of the virus. The study, led by researchers from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, was the first to discover this highly virulent variant of the subtype-B of HIV. 

The study also revealed that the variant has been circulating in the Netherlands for years and remains receptive to HIV treatment. UNAIDS highlight that this newly identified variant does not represent a major public health threat but underscores the urgency of speeding up efforts to halt the HIV pandemic. 

Source: UNAIDS, 7 February 2022