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New mutated and very aggressive strains of Hiv found in canada

Remember when HIV/AIDS used to take years before compromising a healthy individual’s immune system? That sounds a long time ago after research showed a new HIV strain that is leading to faster development AIDS-related illnesses among the indigenous people of Saskatchewan province, Canada. Medical experts in the region have witnessed cases where previously healthy individuals have had their immune systems severely compromised. Instead of taking years, the new strain is much more aggressive and takes a month or a year! That sounds scary as fuck.

The report from BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Simon Fraser University shows that the new strain has high levels of ‘immune resistant mutations’ when compared to other parts of Canada and the United States. Zabrina Brumme, the study’s lead author, said that “people are getting sick very, very fast” while adding that the virus is ‘nastier.’ Evidence shows that the virus is spreading faster than medicine can keep up with while 80 percent of people diagnosed with the illness are of Indigenous ancestry.

High rates

If you didn’t know it already, HIV damages cells in the immune system compromising their ability to fight illnesses. HIV then turns into AIDS (in reality a set of symptoms), which is referred to as ‘late-stage HIV’ in layman’s terms. As such, AIDS cannot be transmitted but HIV can. An individual with AIDS is too weak to fight off infections often with fatal consequences if no treatment is administered.

To conduct the study, 2,300 samples of Saskatchewan strains were tested and researchers established that up to 98% of the Saskatchewan strain had some immune resistant components. Of that, about 80% had a particularly dangerous strain that accelerated illness.

The HIV rates in Saskatchewan are some of the highest in North America with 2016 statistics showing that rates were over 10 times higher than the national average. According to the researchers, the virus seems to have adapted to the immune profile of indigenous people.

In Saskatchewan, like other places in the world, HIV is adapting to the host populations in which it is circulating,” Brumme said. “In Saskatchewan, the majority of HIV-affected persons are of Indigenous ancestry, so HIV, as a result, has adapted to these populations.

This is a trend that’s certainly going to worry medical practitioners moving forward. However, there is some good news because once tested; treatment is available even for immune resistant strains. According to Jeffrey Joy, a research scientist with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, there is an urgent need for the expansion of HIV testing and treatment services in the province since ARVs not only diminish the symptoms but can actually stop the spread of the mutated HIV strain.

Testing is critical

There are plans by the researchers to visit the province and talk with residents to encourage more testing. But according to Dr. Alex Wong, a disease physician at Saskatchewan Health Authority, there are bound to be challenges, among them, being health services are only concentrated in three urban centers. Besides, there is still a stigma associated with testing, and many people shy away from the exercise.

As you know, HIV treatment is a lifetime endeavor, and many people face mental health issues as well as addiction. Getting people to seek medical care and keep them interested is another big challenge. Others issues likely to affect testing and treatment include homelessness, food security (or lack thereof) and mental illness.

As a result, the Saskatchewan government has set aside an extra $600,000 in the 2018-19 budget specifically for HIV medication.

A decade ago, HIV positive individuals were typically given shorter life expectancy as medication made them vulnerable to other fatal infections. Luckily, that is no longer the case as the medication is now more sophisticated thereby allowing HIV positive individuals to lead a normal life just like healthy individuals. Medication mainly consists of one or two pills which are not only less toxic but also better tolerated.  Drugs also suppress the viral load to untraceable and un-transmissible levels, meaning people can still have intimate relationships without transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.

Dr. Wong says:”Once you have a fully suppressed or undetectable viral load, your chances of transmitting the virus -even if you continue to practice very high-risk activities -is essentially zero.”

Cause for concern

Of course, this is not the first case of HIV strains adapting to their host population as previous research in Japan showed a similar trend with the strain adapting to evade the hosts’ immune system. However, the virus has adapted so quickly that it has been transmitted across entire communities in Saskatchewan which is apparently a significant cause for concern.

Darryl Caldwell, an indigenous resident who has been living with the virus for 7 years, admitted to being scared.

It does scare me,” he said before adding: “That’s very disheartening, because a lot of the people from my community, a lot of my relatives, could be having this strain.

About the stigma, he said: “We have hearts too. We want to be loved and treated equally, and we can’t pass [HIV] onto you by kissing or hugging or by sharing utensils.”

Finally

Given the dire situation, a lot still needs to be done to fight the spread of the strain, and The Porn Dude certainly hopes a speedy resolution is arrived at. Spare a thought for the people in Saskatchewan.

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