HIV (Photo : Reuters)

Researchers from the United Kingdom came to the conclusion that HIV spreads to the human body the same as how computer malware infects multiple computers.

HIV specialists from the University College London have developed a new HIV progression model, in which the virus spreads directly between body cells and through the bloodstream.

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The team of researchers noticed that the HIV's method is very similar to how computer worms infect other computers from small local networks to the bigger Internet. In a major clinical trial, the new "hybrid spreading" progression model for HIV predicted the virus' progression to AIDS successfully.

To verify the new model, the researchers collected data from 17 patients located in London. They came up with the most likely explanation that HIV infects others through "hybrid spreading," according to Medical News Today.

HIV infects immune system cells known as CD4+ T cells, which protects the body from diseases and illnesses. The more the virus spreads throughout cells and the bloodstream, the more the number of T cells significantly decrease. This results into the immune system entering the state of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), in which it can no longer do proper functions.

Guidelines from the World Health Organization state that treatment for the virus should only begin once the T cells number reaches a certain low level. UCL's new model estimates that treatment should commence as early as possible to stop the development of AIDS.

Lead author Changwang Zhang from UCL Computer Science said that HIV is highly identical to the "Conficker" computer worm that was first detected almost seven years ago.

"HIV and Conficker have a lot in common. They both use hybrid-spreading mechanisms, persist for a very long time and are incredibly difficult to eradicate. Our model enables us to explain these important properties and to predict the infection process," said Zhang.

Co-author Dr. Clare Jolly said that the new model would immensely help in the assessment of drug effectiveness against HIV, which may lead to better treatments for the virus.