Science: scientists have discovered a new, more dangerous and contagious strain of HIV in the Netherlands.

A group of scientists led by Professor Christophe Fraser from the Big Data Institute at Oxford University reported the discovery of a new, more dangerous and contagious strain of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the Netherlands. The corresponding article was published in the journal Science.

Researchers discovered the mutation during the analysis of blood samples of HIV-infected Europeans from Uganda. A previously unknown variant, called VB, was identified in 17 of them. Of these, 15 turned out to be residents of the Netherlands, so scientists additionally studied samples taken from 6,700 HIV-positive Dutch people, after which they identified 92 more carriers.

The viral load in those infected with the VB variant of HIV was several times higher than in those infected with already known variants of the virus. In addition, they had a higher risk of developing AIDS and transmission of infection. However, after antiretroviral therapy, the immune system returned to normal.

Later analysis showed that the VB strain appeared in the Netherlands in the late 1980s – early 1990s. In the 2000s, it spread faster than other HIV variants, but after 2010, its spread declined. The effective fight against HIV in the country has made it possible to contain the spread of infection.