Throughout the years, HIV has become increasingly more manageable to live with thanks to the invention and availability of advanced medicine—but scientists have recently discovered a new strain of it for the first time in nearly 20 years.
As reported by @CNN, for the first time in 19 years, scientists have detected a new strain of HIV, which is a part of the Group M version of HIV-1. This is the same family of virus subtypes to blame for the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that current treatments for HIV are effective against this new strain and others.
HIV has several different subtypes or strains, it also has the ability to change and mutate over time. This is the first new Group M HIV strain identified since guidelines for classifying subtypes were established in 2000. Although identifying a new strain provides a clearer map of how the HIV virus evolves. “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,” Fauci said.
The sample found and collected in Congo in 2001 was studied by scientists at Abbott Laboratories and the University of Missouri. They were able to fully sequence the sample and determine that it was, in fact, subtype L of Group M. Currently, it’s unclear if this variant of HIV impacts the body differently or if it impacts it differently at all. Luckily, the available HIV treatments are able to fight a wide variety of virus strains, and it is believed that these same treatments can fight this new one as well.
Dr. Carole McArthur, a Professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, had this to say regarding the new findings:
“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.”
Around 36.7 million people around the world are living with HIV, according to World Health Organization. It’s estimated that in 2016 alone, almost 1.8 million people became newly infected.
Roommates, what are your thoughts on this?