Boy is Michael Weinstein gonna be pissed about this…
Medical intervention and the natural course of evolution may be dealing a double blow to the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV-1, weakening its ability to replicate and to cause AIDS, according to a new study.
HIV’s report card
The findings offer a kind of epidemiological and evolutionary checkup on the most deadly form of the virus, which has killed an estimated 39 million people after rapidly expanding in the human population in the 1980s.
The very fact that researchers can witness such evolutionary change may itself be a sobering testament to how long HIV has persisted, and how deeply it has settled in its new host population since first spilling over from monkeys in the early 1900s.
HIV’s rapid acceleration since the 1980s appears to have had the effect predicted by virologists and by evolutionary theory: In a new host, a virus’ capacity to cause disease and ultimately to kill its host diminishes over time.