The survival curve of people living with HIV-2 is similar to that of people living with HIV-1, but is spread out over a longer period of time, a long-term open cohort study published in The Lancet HIV showed.
The HIV-2 variant of the virus occurs mainly in West Africa, while HIV-1 is distributed across the globe. HIV-2 had been thought to rarely progress to the clinical definition of AIDS or death, even in the absence of treatment. However, the current study shows that not to be the case.
Researchers analyzed data on nearly all of Guinea-Bissau’s police force over the course of 23 years. Of the 4,817 total participants, 919 were either found to be HIV positive at study entry or were diagnosed after enrollment, and 464 of those 919 had HIV-2. While it took participants living with HIV-2 longer to progress to AIDS, 43% of them did so (in a median 14.3 years). Among those with HIV-1, 54% developed AIDS after a median of 6.2 years.
In a related press release, Fredrik Månsson, one of the study’s authors, noted the lack of commercial interest in HIV-2 research, in part because of West Africa’s poverty and consequently low investment levels. He and his colleagues called for a long-term treatment study to determine the usefulness of early antiretroviral treatment for those living with HIV-2.