US lab identifies rare new HIV strain

Henrietta Brewer
November 8, 2019

According to CNN, the HIV virus and its various subtypes are able to change and mutate over time, and this is the first new Group M strain identified in 19 years.

Scientists have discovered a new strain of HIV for the first time since 2000, according to a new study.

A senior faculty member at AIIMS, New Delhi, who did not want to be named said that sequencing of this strain is a significant development in understanding, prevention and treatment of HIV because it is part of what has caused the most infections in humans. "There is no reason to panic or even worry a little". "Not a lot of people are infected with this. This is an outlier".

At the time of collection of a blood sample that showed up this new strain genomics was not as developed as now.

For scientists to be able to declare that this was a new subtype, three cases of it must be detected independently.

The sample found and collected in the Congo in 2001 was studied by scientists from Abbott Laboratories and the University of Missouri.

According to the World Health Organization, around 38 million people worldwide are living with HIV, over two-thirds of which are in Africa.

Rodgers says the almost decades-long process of verifying the strain's existence was akin to "searching for a needle in a haystack" and then removing the needle "with a magnet" afterward.

Scientists began studying this third sample in order to map it and provide thorough evidence for a third strain, in a process described as being "like searching for a needle in a haystack", and then "pulling the needle out with a magnet". Both subtypes and sub-subtypes of the HIV-1 M group are believed to have originated from a single chimpanzee-to-human transmission. "There is a very high likelihood that this new subtype, or any new group M subtype of recombinant form, would not behave differently to how it would be detected by diagnostic assay or respond to antiviral treatment", Shafer told Salon.

Dr. Carole McArthur, Professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and one of the study researchers said, "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". "Since CG-0018a-01 is more closely related to an ancestral strain than to isolates from 1983 or 1990, additional strains are likely circulating in DRC and possibly elsewhere". She added, "We definitely don't work in isolation". The company said it would make available the new HIV strain to the research community to evaluate its impact on diagnostic testing, treatments and potential vaccines. She said, "We're not going to slow down". Moreover, like much reporting on medical research, there is important contextual information one needs to understand the significance of this news.

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