According to City health officials, the man -- who had previously had five negative HIV tests done by his private physician between September 2000 and May 2003 -- had unprotected sex with numerous male partners in mid-October, reported feeling unwell in late October and November, and subsequently had positive ELISA and Western Blot (HIV tests) documented in mid-December. The individual then progressed to a diagnosis of highly drug-resistant AIDS by mid-January. Ordinarily, it has taken up to ten years for an untreated individual to progress from HIV infection to an AIDS defining illness and diagnosis.
"It appears this individual has contracted a new, particularly virulent strain of HIV that swiftly advanced to AIDS in just a few short months," said Charles Farthing, MD, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Chief of Medicine. "Unfortunately, it also seems that few of the AIDS treatments currently available today can be used in his case, as his particular strain of infection appears to be resistant to most known AIDS drugs. AIDS care providers see many cases of patients with a high degree of some drug resistance; however, doctors and providers can usually find a second or third line drug therapy regimen for effective treatment. This man's strain of infection appears to be much more pathogenic, much more able to wreak havoc with his immune system, and medical providers and public health officials are being well-advised to work closely together to monitor -- and hopefully prevent transmission of -- this strain of the virus by encouraging gay men, in particular, to practice safer sex and use cond oms during all sexual encounters."
"This case in New York underscores the crucial need to step up collaborative efforts among public health officials, medical providers and AIDS groups to fine tune and develop aggressive, ongoing and innovative HIV prevention programs with a particular emphasis on targeting high-risk populations," said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President. "Clearly men who have sex with men continue to be at risk, as well as African Americans, as President Bush noted last week in his State of the Union address. Rather than demonizing particular individuals or groups, we need to work together develop a more pragmatic and comprehensive public health approach to fighting HIV, including addressing many of the underlying reasons people put themselves at risk-including undiagnosed depression and poor access to mental health services -- if we are to truly break the chain of infection through effective prevention, testing and treatment efforts."