Can Natural Selection Apply to HIV?

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Mon Feb 20 01:39:27 EST 1995

On Thu, 26 Jan 1995 WRATHAL at american.edu wrote:

> Sure, Natural Selection will effect a virus, HIV included. One consideration
> is that if the virus kills its host too quickly, then there is less chance
> for the virus to infect a new host, and so have a selective disadvantage
> when compared to viruses which are more benign.

This is not necessarily the case.  It all depends upon the mode of
transmission.  It doesn't matter one bit how fast a virus (or any
pathogenic organism) kills its host if it can still be transmitted
effectively.  Aerosol transmission is excellent IF there is a nice,
constant level of interpersonal contact before virus lays you out.  If a
virus is transmitted by insect vector, even if you are immobilized and not
interacting with others as a result, if the carrier insect can get to you,
it doesn't matter if the virus kills you quickly or not.  


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