Date
21 September 2017
A nurse hands a red ribbon to a woman to mark World AIDS Day. British scientists say HIV is becoming less deadly. Photo: Reuters
A nurse hands a red ribbon to a woman to mark World AIDS Day. British scientists say HIV is becoming less deadly. Photo: Reuters

British scientists: HIV evolving into milder form

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is becoming less deadly and less infectious, according to a major scientific study.

The virus, responsible for millions of deaths worldwide, is being “watered down” as it adapts to the immune system, the BBC reported Tuesday, citing a team of scientists from the University of Oxford.

It’s taking longer for HIV infection to cause AIDS and that the changes in the virus may help efforts to contain the pandemic.

Some virologists suggest the virus may eventually become “almost harmless” as it continues to evolve.

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV.

Inside their bodies a devastating battle takes place between the immune system and the virus.

“We are observing evolution happening in front of us and it is surprising how quickly the process is happening,” Prof. Philip Goulder said. 

“The virus is slowing down in its ability to cause disease and that will help contribute to elimination.”

The findings also suggested anti-retroviral drugs are forcing HIV to evolve into milder forms.

However, the researchers cautioned that even a milder version of HIV is still dangerous and could cause AIDS.

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