(Fox News) Scientists have found an aggressive strain of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Cuba that they say can progress to AIDS so rapidly that patients may not even know they are infected before symptoms appear, Medical News Today reported.
The Cuban variant of HIV is categorized as a recombinant version of the virus, which can occur if a person engages in unprotected sex with multiple infected partners and contracts multiple strains of the HIV virus, which later recombine within a person to create a new variant.
In a normal HIV infection, the virus attaches to proteins on the membranes of cells known as CCR5 before it is able to penetrate the cell. The HIV-infected patient may experience a number of healthy years before the virus becomes CXCR4, which quickly progresses to AIDS, according to the report.
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In the new Cuban strain, researchers found that HIV makes the transition to CXCR4 more quickly than in the other strains, resulting in a shorter number of "healthy" years. The new strain can cause AIDS to appear within just three years of infection.