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HIV may be getting less potent, say researchers in the 14 October issue of the journal AIDS.

In a BBC Online article, they caution that although their finding suggests the virus is becoming less harmful to people, it should not lead to complacency in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

After comparing samples of the virus from 1986-89 and 2002-03, they found that newer samples did not replicate as well and were more sensitive to drugs compared to older ones.

HIV experts say that the virus appears to be changing to become less lethal as it spreads through human populations.

This form of adaptation is a tactic that other harmful organisms use to ensure their survival:  every time a virus or bacterium kills its host, it reduces its chance of replicating.

HIV seems to be trying to strike a balance that ensures it is spread as widely as possible, but without hindering its own reproduction.

Link to abstract of paper in AIDS

Link to full article on BBC Online

Reference: AIDS 19, 1555 (2005)

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