New HIV Strain Has Been Identified; First In 20 Years

New HIV Strain Has Been Identified; First In 20 Years

Researchers have come across a new strain of HIV, with the first strain being identified almost 20 years ago.

According to the article, which was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, Abbott Laboratories, Presbyterian Mission Agency and University of Missouri researchers agree there is a new kind of HIV since the introduction of the classification of HIV strains back in 2000.

There are two kinds of HIV – HIV-1 and HIV-2. The HIV-1 category has several strains. One such strain is Group M, which has been linked back to the Democratic Republic of Congo and is responsible for the worldwide HIV epidemic.

The newly-discovered strain is being classified as subtype L in HIV-1 Group M.

Sporadic cases of the virus under subtype L were seen in 1983 and 1990 in the DRC. An additional case was seen in 2001, which led to the study. Unfortunately, researchers could not identify the genome to classify it as an HIV subtype until now.

Abbott principal scientist Mary Rodgers said finding a new virus is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The latest discovery will help to stop pandemics from happening.

While forms of the new HIV strain is making its way around, there is no classification for them just yet.

Boston University associate professor Manish Sagar said the finding is further proof of the many HIV strains in the world. Sagar was not involved in the study.

According to researchers, the prevalence of this HIV subtype is less than what was discovered, which means it’s unlikely to spread. However, it’s important to gather and find the different strains as they happen.

Sagar said current HIV regimens can be used to fight the strain, as no data points to their ineffectiveness against it.

University of Missouri-Kansas City co-author Carole McArthur said the discovery is a prime example of the need to outsmart the virus if the HIV pandemic is ever to end.

Written by Mark Riegel, MD

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