Health officials in New York City have discovered a new strain of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that is drug-resistant and that causes a quick onset of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The patient, a man in his mid-40s, had had unprotected sex with other men, often while using crystal methamphetamine, an addictive stimulant. The strain was diagnosed in December 2004.
The patient appeared to have fallen ill with AIDS within two or three months, and at most 20 months, after infection. The virus did not respond to three of four types of antiviral drugs most commonly prescribed. He is receiving a fourth regimen of treatment.
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Although drug resistance is increasingly common among HIV patients, even among those who had never been treated before, such a rapid progression to AIDS is unusual.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it is unaware of any other case like this in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world. Some health care professionals do not see cause for alarm, but the city’s health commissioner considers this a wake-up-call to anyone who engages in unprotected sex and other high-risk behaviors.