Scientists discover first new HIV strain in nearly 2 decades

Researchers announced on Wednesday the discovery of a new strain of HIV, the first new strain of the virus identified since 2000. According to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the strain is part of the Group M version of HIV-1.

Researchers announced on Wednesday the discovery of a new strain of HIV, the first new strain of the virus identified since 2000. According to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the strain is part of the Group M version of HIV-1. Strains from Group M are the most common and are responsible for the global HIV pandemic. "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," said study co-author, Carole McArthur, MD, a professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that existing HIV treatments are effective against the new strain, known as HIV-1 subtype L, and others. Identifying a new strain helps to better show how HIV evolves. "There's no reason to panic or even to worry about it a little bit," Fauci said. "Not a lot of people are infected with this. This is an outlier." To declare this a new subtype, researchers had to detect three cases of it independently. The first two were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1983 and 1990, while the third was found in Congo in 2001 as part of a small study aimed at preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission. The new findings are published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.