Health officials are seeking to identify and locate a San Diego resident who tested positive for a form of HIV that is similar to a drug-resistant and possibly aggressive strain recently reported in New York City. The New York patient, a man in his mid 40s, had many sex partners in recent weeks while using crystal methamphetamine, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and he progressed rapidly to AIDS.
Some of that man's partners may have been Californians, said Nancy Bowen, public health officer of San Diego County, who said the San Diego patient tested HIV-positive in the fall. A recent check of a national HIV databank found that the genetic makeup of the San Diego patient's strain was similar to that of the New York patient. It is not known, however, whether the New York and San Diego cases are linked.
"It is the situation of this person [in New York City] that's raising the alarm because he's gotten sick so quickly and has been identified as being resistant to so many medications," Bowen said.
To locate the San Diego patient, health officials are trying to identify and contact the patient's doctor. They have asked a northern California laboratory that has the patient's genetic HIV information on file to notify the patient's health care provider. At this point, it is not known whether the person tested anonymously, Bowen said. If the person can be found, officials will work with the patient to identify anyone else who may have been exposed.
In New York, researchers are also testing HIV from a man who was infected before he had sex with the initial case there. It may be a week or longer before officials can determine whether the HIV strains from the three patients are identical. (AP)