AIDS experts have lingering doubts about the importance of a rare multidrug-resistant strain of HIV reported in February in New York City, the Los Angeles Times reports. Health officials in New York announced at a press conference that a gay man in the city had been diagnosed with a rare strain of HIV that was resistant to nearly every anti-HIV drug on the market and that appeared to quickly progress to an AIDS diagnosis, perhaps within just a few months. They believed that the combination of drug resistance and rapid progression indicated the emergence of a particularly deadly form of HIV. The press conference was meant to alert people in the city, particularly sexually active gay men, that they could be exposing themselves to the highly virulent HIV strain by engaging in risky behaviors, including unprotected sex.
But some AIDS experts continue to question the alert sounded in New York, calling it "scientifically naive and needlessly alarmist," the Times reports, particularly since no other cases have been identified in the ensuing months. They also note that drug-resistant strains of HIV are becoming increasingly more common and that there have been case reports throughout the AIDS epidemic of HIV patients rapidly progressing from infection to an AIDS diagnosis, mostly due to unique aspects of their immune systems that allows HIV to rapidly replicate. New York officials say they never intended for any sweeping conclusions to be drawn from the single HIV case they announced.