According to USA Today, researchers have found a new strain of HIV after almost 20 years.
A new study published on Wednesday, [Nov. 7] by a peer-reviewed Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes revealed the first new strain of HIV since its classification in 2000. The researchers that confirmed this discovery are a group from Abbott Laboratories, University of Missouri, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
The new strain is classified as, “subtype L In HIV-1 Group M”. The two main types of HIV are HIV-1 and HIV-2. In HIV-1, there are multiple strains. Group M is the strain that led to the global HIV epidemic that was traced back to the Dominican Republic of Congo, [DRC].
The virus was isolated into samples under subtype L when first spotted in DRC in 1983 and 1990. A third isolated sample was found in 2001 and was the main objective of this study. Still, researchers were not able to find its sequence, identification, the genome to distinguish it as a subtype of HIV until this year.
“Identifying new viruses such as this one is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” said Mary Rodgers, a principal scientist at Abbott. She went on to say, “This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks.”
Forms of this new strain of the HIV might be circulating, both in the DRC and elsewhere, but are unclassified as of now.
Manish Sagar, an associate professor at Boston University, told USA TODAY that the discovery further proves the existence of varied strains of HIV around the world. He is unaffiliated with the study.
Mannish Sagar, who is the associate professor at Boston University, shared with USA Today that this discovery shows that various strains of HIV exist around the world.
However, the likelihood of the virus spreading is unlikely. But, It is helpful for researchers to be able to collect and identify other forms of the virus as it changes and shifts throughout the years.
Sagar also added that current HIV treatments should be able to combat the new strain. “In the absence of any data, there is no reason to suspect that current drug treatments will not be effective against this strain,” he shared with USA TODAY.
“This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution,” co-author Carole McArthur of the University of Missouri-Kansas City stated.