updated 3/30/2005 9:38:57 AM ET 2005-03-30T14:38:57

Health officials have identified several patients potentially infected with a rare strain of highly drug-resistant HIV, but are not sure if the cases are related.

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The first case of the strain was reported last month in a man who had unprotected sex with dozens of other men while under the influence of crystal methamphetamine.

Officials then contacted sex partners identified by the infected man, and began surveying city HIV laboratories for patients with possibly related strains, The New York Times reported in Wednesday editions.

City officials would not say how many patients had been identified as possibly being infected with the strain, and said it could take months to determine for sure whether their infections are related to the first case.

“The extent to which this strain has spread remains under investigation,” the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement.

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