According to a recent study published in the Lancet HIV, HIV-2 is now considered more pathogenetic than ever before. As per the new results of the study, the treatment should be available to every patient of HIV and not only suffering from HIV-1.
According to Joakim Esbjörnsson, associate senior lecturer and researcher in medical microbiology at Lund University in Sweden, “The study is unique in that we have followed a cohort of study participants frequently over a long period, which enabled us to determine when the patients became infected by HIV, as well as to follow the development of the disease. Our data indicate that the majority of those infected with HIV-2 will develop and die of AIDS, something previous studies have not been able to determine.”
Both HIV-1 and HIV-2 viruses are similar to each other but their spread around the world do vary. HIV-1 is widespread all over the world while on the other hand HIV-2 is limited to only areas of West Africa. This is the first-ever study which predicted the time between the infection and death caused by an HIV-2 virus.
From 1990 to 2013 the researchers studied 49,000 individuals in Guinea-Bissau and conducted out annual examinations as well as the blood test. In the study, a comparison was also done between people with HIV negative and HIV-1. The data at the end showed that HIV-2 can also show the same results as HIV-1 but the process is slow.
HIV-2 can cause HIV-infections and AIDS in a very similar way to HIV-1. According to the previous studies people with HIV-2 can have a normal life expectancy even without having the antiretroviral treatment plus the people will also not develop any HIV complication. However, HIV-1 in around 98% of the cases can cause AIDS. Even the WHO is also unaware about the recent fact which is discovered by the researchers that is why their recommendation plan doesn’t hold any treatment for HIV-2 patients.
“There is a commonly held belief within research as well as in public healthcare about the various types of HIV: that HIV-2 does not lead to disease in the same way as HIV-1. We want to dismantle this belief and change the views on the international treatment recommendations,” says Joakim Esbjörnsson.
This type of study was not done ever before as the course of HIV is very long and there is very little or no possibility to conduct this type of study again. According to Joakim, it is a difficult task to study the course of HIV-2 and that is why researchers are not sure about the aggressiveness of HIV-2 and its treatment plan.
As per the associate professor Hans Norrgren of infectious diseases at Lund University and consultant physician at the infection clinic at Skåne University Hospital in Lund, the problem that can be highlighted is that in most of the people the level of HIV-2 virus is not measurable in the blood. This is why researchers are clouded with uncertainty as for when to start the treatment or whether the patient really needs the treatment or not.
According to Fredrik Månsson, a researcher in clinical infectious diseases at Lund University and specialist physician at the infection clinic at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, “Furthermore, HIV-2 mainly occurs in West Africa, which is the world’s poorest region, characterized by low investment levels and frequent political instability.”
“This not only makes research and development more difficult in the region but has also contributed to the fact that commercial interest in the development of diagnostics and treatment of HIV-2 has not been equally strong.”