Two new research studies have found that the virus that causes AIDS destroys more than half of the body's immune cells responsible for fighting the disease within days of the initial infection.
In a report released in the influential magazine Nature Sunday, scientists say the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) immediately attacks vulnerable CD4 immune cells, killing up to half of them within four days.
The scientists' findings add to a growing body of evidence that the virus is more virulent than previously thought.
Experts say the new discovery may prompt a shift in the way doctors treat the disease, including changes in how experimental vaccines are devised and tested.
There is currently no cure for those infected with the virus, which the United Nations estimates afflicts more than 41 million people worldwide.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.