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AIDS Virus May Be Weakening

HIV Evolving but Still Packs Lethal Punch

Adapting to Human Hosts continued...

"We have seen only a tendency, a trend," Quiñones-Mateu says. "It could take 100 years, it could take a million years, but that is what is going to happen."

"The question is whether it is thousands of years or decades," Vanham says. "The suggestion of our study is that we are talking about decades. We are already seeing evolution. But this does not mean the virus is so weak that newly infected people will no longer get disease."

Vanham notes that the study looked at only one strain of HIV, in only one country. He says he'll feel more confident about the findings if studies of other HIV subtypes show the same evolutionary trends and if clinical studies detect a lengthening time from HIV infection to AIDS.

Vanham and colleagues' report -- and an editorial comment by Quiñones-Mateu -- appear in the Oct. 14 issue of the journal AIDS.

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