Los Angeles Times Examines Lingering Doubts About Rare, Drug-Resistant HIV Strain in New York City
The Los Angeles Times on Sunday examined HIV/AIDS experts' doubts about the importance of a rare, highly drug-resistant HIV strain detected in a New York City man in February and the decision to publicize the case widely (Piller, Los Angeles Times, 6/5). Officials from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Feb. 11 announced they had detected the HIV strain, which is resistant to most antiretroviral drugs and possibly causes a rapid onset of AIDS. The city health department issued an alert to physicians, hospitals and medical providers asking them to test all HIV-positive patients for evidence of the strain. The strain's combination of highly drug-resistant HIV and rapid progression to AIDS had not been identified before (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/30). Some HIV/AIDS experts have questioned the rationale behind the alert, saying it was "scientifically naive and needlessly alarmist," particularly because no super-strain emerged, the patient in question is responding to antiretroviral treatment and no other related cases have been found, the Times reports. Although the alert emphasized that limited conclusions could be drawn from just one case, "the event seemed suffused with the subtext that this could be a turning point in the epidemic," according to the Times. However, other experts and advocates think the announcement "offered a rare megaphone to wake people up" at a time when the HIV/AIDS epidemic "has lost some of its urgency," the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 6/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.