City More on the Local “Cluster” of Drug-Resistant HIV Cases
posted by February 1 at 18:48 PMon
King County health officials announced on February 1 that four local gay men have been diagnosed with a similar, drug-resistant strain of HIV, and the health officials expressed concern that this “cluster” of hard-to-treat HIV cases could signal one particularly drug-resistant strain of HIV spreading in the local gay community.
“We’re calling these a ‘cluster’ because their resistance patterns are so similar that we think there may be a common source or sources,” said Dr. Bob Wood, the HIV/AIDS program director for the county’s health department. “We wanted to get the message out—particularly to people who might be having risky sex in the gay community—that HIV is bad, but some HIV is worse.”
The announcement was similar to an announcement made almost exactly two years ago by health officials in New York City, who had discovered a man infected with a strain of HIV that progressed quickly to full-blown AIDS and was resistant to three of the four classes of HIV drugs.
However, while in that case New York City health officials released information that gave a sense of the infected man’s age (mid-40s) and how he met his partners (over the internet), King County health officials refused to describe the age or sexual meeting places of the men in the local cluster, other than to say that they were all crystal-meth users who had anonymous sex with multiple partners, and that there was “variability” in their sexual meeting places.
“The behavior that got them infected was unsafe sex,” Dr. Wood said, explaining why the department wasn’t releasing more detailed information on their behaviors. “And probably the meth didn’t help.”