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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 9 July, 2020

HIV may be evolving to become less deadly

As the virus adapts to the human immune system in order to survive longer, it weakens its own ability to cause disease, according to new research.

Image: Focus Features via YouTube

A GROUND-BREAKING NEW study conducted by researchers in Africa has found HIV’s ability to cause AIDs could be weakening and, as it adapts to our immune system, it may also be becoming less infectious.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Oxford, which found that people in Botswana who are newly infected with HIV are less likely to suffer disease than they would have been 20 or 30 years ago.

Study co-author Philip Goulder told WebMD that this is thanks to natural selection, as the virus evolves to make its host less sick over time so it will have a better chance of being passed on. In Botswana, where there has been a concentrated epidemic for decades, HIV has adapted to bypass a person’s immune system and this is actually a good thing, according to researchers, as it means it replicates less efficiently than before.

Furthermore, researchers have suggested that anti-HIV drugs are also making the virus less deadly.

The findings have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While it indicates good news for the future, authors stressed that findings could be different in other areas where an epidemic is less concentrated and even a diluted version of the virus would still be dangerous.

Read: Average age of HIV diagnosis for gay and bisexual men has fallen to 32>

Read: Women need more contraception options to stop unintended pregnancies, HIV and STIs>

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