A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford suggests that the HIV virus is becoming less deadly as a result of the way it reacts and adapts to the human immune system.
Researchers discovered that the virus is taking longer to cause AIDS and has become less infectious.
Some experts believe that the research indicates that the virus may eventually become “almost harmless” and changes to the virus may make it possible to control the global pandemic more effectively.
The study relates to cases in Africa. Researchers analysed data from Botswana and South Africa to compare the strength and power of the virus. HIV arrived in Botswana a decade before it came to South Africa and the study revealed that in Botswana, the virus’ ability to replicate was 10 per cent lower than in South Africa, which marks a really exciting and significant change.
Professor Philip Goulder, from the University of Oxford, explained that the difference between the African nations outlined evolutional changes in the virus, which are making it less of a threat. If these changes continue and this is expected, eventually the virus will become unable to cause disease.
Research also suggests that antiviral medications are helping to reduce the severity of HIV and contributing to a longer period of time between HIV infection and the onset of AIDS. In Botswana, the time period has increased from 10 years to 12.5 years in the last 20 years.
The findings of the study have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.