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2ND TYPE OF AIDS VIRUS HITS WEST COAST FROM WEST AFRICA

SHARE 2ND TYPE OF AIDS VIRUS HITS WEST COAST FROM WEST AFRICA

A second type of deadly AIDS virus has reached the West Coast, where it was found in a West African man who often failed to wear condoms when he had sex with 20 to 40 women here since 1979, officials say.

"This is the first case of HIV-2 to our knowledge in the western United States," said Dr. David Ho, director of the AIDS virology laboratory at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.HIV-2 - or human immunodeficiency virus type 2 - is common in West Africa, but very rare in the United States, where almost all of more than 105,000 AIDS cases were caused by the HIV-1 type.

The infected man, a Los Angeles resident who moved here from Sierra Leone in 1979, hasn't developed AIDS, and chances are low that he infected his lovers, said Dr. Peter Kerndt, AIDS epidemiology director at Los Angeles County's Department of Health Services.

Until now, only seven cases of HIV-2 infection had been confirmed in the United States: three in Massachusetts and one each in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Florida and New Jersey, said Dr. Thomas O'Brien, an epidemiologist at the national Centers for Disease Control. Three of those people developed AIDS.

Six other people believed to be infected with HIV-2 have been identified in New York state, including five in New York City, O'Brien said by phone from Atlanta. Almost all the patients imported the virus from West Africa, he said.