The COVID-19 retrovirus — perhaps the most pressing killer of teens in the U.S. right now — has been found to persist in at least 18 American states, following the discovery of tiny RNA copies of the disease-causing genes in American people over the past year. Over the last 20 years, DNA testing has helped confirm that COVID is found only in the Asia-Pacific region. That gap has now been filled.
The virus was first detected in the U.S. in 2001 by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the years, research with the virus has only gotten better.
One way the gene variants named for the scientist who discovered the virus in the 1950s, Douglas Egeland, allow COVID to resurface is by allowing it to be easily transmitted through saliva. But COVID can also be passed from mother to child. The discovery that over 1,000 people in 18 U.S. states are carrying the retrovirus has led to an FDA-approved plan to vaccinate pregnant women, because the virus is known to live in fetal tissues.
Studies done by Bate and others have suggested that up to 50 percent of cases of COVID-19 have been due to infection by HIV during sexual intercourse, and another 10 percent have been by injection drug use.
But while about half of all U.S. cases of the virus appear to be women, gay and bisexual men seem to be more at risk than straight men, said AIDS researcher Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. That is due in part to the fact that gay and bisexual men are more likely to have drugs and blood contaminated with HIV — thus, are more likely to be HIV-positive. Another part of the reason could be because gay and bisexual men are less likely to seek HIV prevention services — since in the past, they have paid little attention to the virus.
And the finding that an epidemic of COVID in the U.S. is rampant could serve as a wake-up call. It shows that COVID still poses a serious public health threat, even though the virus is no longer considered a disease, as the name suggests.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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