Scientists Discover a New Strain of HIV
Medical Scientists report they have discovered a new strain of HIV for the first time in almost 20 years.
The new strain is a part of the same family of virus subtypes that have fueled the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research with the University of Missouri.
The strain has been classified as subtype L in HIV-1 Group M. HIV has several different subtypes or strains, and like other viruses, it has the ability to change and mutate over time.
There are two main types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Within HIV-1, there are multiple strains. Group M, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is the strain that led in the global HIV epidemic.
Forms of this new strain of the HIV virus might be circulating, both in the DRC and elsewhere, but are unclassified as of now.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that existing treatments for HIV work against this strain.
"There's no reason to panic or even worry about it a little bit," Fauci told CNN. "Not a lot of people are infected with this. This is an outlier."
"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," study co-author, Dr. Carole McArthur, a professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, said in a statement.
About 36.7 million in the world are living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization. UNAIDS estimates that in 2016, some 1.8 million people became newly infected.