Home Science Oxford Scientists: HIV Evolving To Be Less Deadly

Oxford Scientists: HIV Evolving To Be Less Deadly

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Scientists may not have discovered an end all be all cure to HIV, but the way things are developing such a cure might not even be necessary. As HIV has infected more and more people, it has also been evolving into a less deadly form of the disease.

Some scientists are even speculating that with time the virus could involve into a non-fatal, or perhaps even harmless disease. Even if this is possible, however, it will be generations upon generations before the disease is rendered harmless, but from the standpoint of evolution it’s certainly not impossible.

Why The HIV Virus Could Be Evolving

HIV is essentially adapting to the human body and learning how to infect people without killing them. The virus itself, a near-life DNA or RNA carrying packet, isn’t acting benignly, but instead adapting to tough operating conditions.

When the virus infects a person it begins to slowly infiltrate the immune system and starts hijacking cells which are essentially converted into HIV production plants. The immune system launches a response but in most cases the HIV slowly overwhelms the immune system, leaving people vulnerable to attacks from other diseases.

Some people, however, have very strong immune systems and if the virus moves too aggressively, it can find itself being overwhelmed by the body’s response. One way the virus can continue to replicate in such an environment is by watering itself down. This way it won’t solicit as strong of a response from the immune system and will be able to stay out of the lime lot.

HIV: A Weaker Virus Could Be A Stronger Virus

By becoming a weaker virus, HIV can actually become a stronger virus, at least from the perspective of evolution. A virus doesn’t necessarily want to kill its host, it merely wants to replicate itself. So whatever supports the fastest and most replication, the better off the disease will be from the point of view of evolution.

If a disease kills its hosts too quickly, it’ll be harder for the virus to spread. At the same time, if the virus solicits to strong of a response from the immune system, its chances of spreading are again reduced.

Thus a weaker virus that is still able to replicate may turn out to be more efficient at reproduction. By becoming less deadly the HIV virus will lower the risk of being wiped out by the immune system and also increase its chances of being spread to another human.

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