Q and A

Question

Is HIV reinfection a myth?

Hi, I was wondering why does your site mention reinfection/superinfection?

I can’t see how it is possible to be infected with the same virus, more than once.¬†Your book and site is generally very useful, but if this is just a myth it just adds to the taboo surrounding HIV.

Answer

Hi

Thanks for your feedback which is always appreciated.

Unfortunately though, reinfection is not a myth. It is easily possible because HIV isn’t a single fixed virus. Even though infection is often with a single virus, this develops and changes within everyone until we all have a soup of slightly different types of HIV.

There are already about 30 major HIV sub-types (called clades) that have significant differences, These could only have occurred by reinfection. Sub-types A, B, C and D etc have structural differences that sometimes affects how quickly HIV progresses or how drug resistance develops.

So reinfection not only occurs but might be very common if not on ART.
http://i-base.info/htb/16330

However, the clinical implications are only if there is drug resistance. These cases are much more rare, but they are important enough to have been published many times.

This Q&A service has answered many questions online on this over the years:
http://i-base.info/qa/category/reinfection-with-hiv

The good news is that having an undetectable viral load with stop reinfection just as well as it stops infection ie reducing the risk to zero.

2 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi King,
    Your answers are on a different topic, you can see them here.

  2. king

    Pls i can see my answers,

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