There is a pressing concern in the wake of an AIDS crisis spreading alarmingly fast in the Orinoco region of Venezuela. According to Dr. Jacobus de Waard (Institute of Biomedicine from the Central University of Venezuela), on average of 10% of Warao villagers are affected, and in smaller communities all the men are infected with HIV. Warao tribes located on the mouth of the Orinoco River are disappearing, which could lead to the decimation of a nation of nearly fifty thousand people.
The situation has been declared a pandemic. Flor Oujol, director of the Lab for Molecular Virology of the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), is alarmed by the situation given its magnitude and the rapid speed of transmission. The circulating strain of HIV quickly evolves into AIDS and people die soon thereafter.
The HIV virus circulating among the Warao is distinct from the one affecting the rest of Venezuelan people. According to biologist Hector Rangel, most HIV infections start with viral type called R5 and as the disease evolves the virus transforms into X4- this aggressive variation leads to immunity deficiency faster. Rangel says that 90% of the Warao have X4, which is uncommon in Latin American. Another characteristic of the virus is that it disproportionality affects men. Dr. Waard estimates a 2 year life expectancy of the entire Warao nation.
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