After two decades scientists discovered a new HIV strain

The first time in 19 years, a new strain of HIV is detected by a team of scientists. The new strain belongs to a part of the Group M version of HIV-1. According to Abbott Laboratories, which researched along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City said that the same family of the virus is blamed for the global HIV pandemic. The recent updates got published on Wednesday in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. HIV has several subtypes or strains, and it also can change and mutate over time. Since the classification of HIV’s subtypes in 2000, this is the first new Group M HIV strain identified. As per scientists, it is very significant to know about the strains of the virus that are circulating to ensure that the tests used to detect the disease are effective.

Mary Rodgers, a co-author of the report and a principal scientist at Abbott, stated that “It can be a real challenge for diagnostic tests.” Mary Rodger said that her company tests more than 60% of the world’s blood supply. She also stated that they would look into the new strains and track those in circulations so “we can accurately detect it, no matter where it happens to be in the world.” The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that current treatments for HIV are effective against this strain and others. However, the recent discovery would provide a complete map of how HIV evolves.

Fauci said, “There’s no reason to panic or even to worry about it a little bit, not a lot of people are infected with this. This is an outlier.” Three cases have to be detected for scientists to declare that this is a new subtype. In 1983 and 1990, the first two cases were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rodger said the two strains were “very unusual and didn’t match other strains.” Scientists were not sure of the third one, which was discovered in 2001, for there wasn’t much technology to determine if it was the new subtype. Dr. Carole McArthur, a professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City said on the latest discovery of the Group M version that, “This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to out-think this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution”.

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Rowena Goodwin

I've written about health care for one and a half decades. I wrote for Modern Healthcare and several Iowa newspapers, including the Des Moines Register. I am passionate about health literacy when it comes to explaining the complexities of health care. A better-understood health system may save someone some money or their life.

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