Health Care

Rare new HIV strain identified

Rare new HIV strain identified”

Researchers have affirmed the presence of an extra strain of HIV that has been around for a considerable length of time, as indicated by discoveries distributed Wednesday in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

"Identifying new viruses such as this one is like searching for a needle in a haystack", said Mary Rodgers, Ph.D., a principal scientist and head of the Global Viral Surveillance Program, Diagnostics, Abbott, and one of the study authors. Group M is the most prevalent form of the HIV-1 virus.

Professor McArthur says it is the first new HIV "Group M" subtype in nearly 20 years and owes its discovery to more recent advances in next-generation sequencing.

The authors wrote in conclusion, "The CG-0018a-01 HIV-1 genome establishes subtype L and confirms ongoing transmission in DRC as recently as 2001. No other new subtypes have been characterized since 2000". This strain is very rare, and expected to have the same response to existing antiretroviral therapies, which work incredibly well; if diagnosed early, HIV positive people now have almost the same life expectancy as those who are HIV negative. Researchers told CNN they have done so: two samples were discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo 1983 and 1990, while a third was located in the African nation in 2001.

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In order to determine a new subtype, three cases must be discovered independently.

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. "Not a lot of people are infected with this". The third, collected in 2001, was hard to sequence at that time because of the amount of virus in the sample and the existing technology.

According to estimates, 37.9 million people across the world are now living with HIV, while 1.7 million individuals contracted the virus a year ago.

While subtype L appears now restricted to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the scientists said, continued molecular surveillance would be essential to determine its true prevalence and other rare or emerging strains of HIV. "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. Still, researchers were not able to find its sequence, identification, the genome to distinguish it as a subtype of HIV until this year. "We're sharing this strain with the scientific community so others can work on the strain and hopefully that can advance things like vaccines and treatments". "We can never become complacent, we need to be proactive and we're working to stay a step ahead of the virus".



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