Scientists Discover the First New Strain of HIV in 19 Years 

In a rare find, scientists have announced that the first new strain of HIV since 2000 has been discovered.

Updated30 Nov 2019, 08:25 AM IST
Health News
2 min read

(World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st every year. With more than 21 million patients, India has the third-highest burden of the disease after South Africa and Nigeria.)

Scientists have discovered a new subtype of the deadly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), called HIV-1 Group M, subtype L. The astounding findings were published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS).

“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.”
Carole McArthur, professor in the departments of oral and craniofacial sciences, University of Missouri and one of the study authors.

Scientists at Abbott Laboratories, a global healthcare company, announced the discovery, which marks the first time a new strain of HIV has been discovered since 2000 when guidelines for classifying new strains of HIV were established.

HIV Can Mutate into Different Strains; Genome-Sequencing Can Help

According to the findings, the new strain is a subtype of HIV-1 Group M (called subtype L), and Group M is the strain that is responsible for 90% of the global HIV pandemic.

HIV is a virus, like hepatitis, that can evolve and grow into different strains so constant vigilance by scientists is a must.

The AIDS epidemic has devastated lives. 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 37.9 million people today are living with the virus says the Abbott press release. Thankfully, global public health has advanced and living with HIV does not mean a death sentence anymore - efforts to curb the pandemic are well underway.

So a new strain being discovered does seem frightening, but scientists at Abbott say that next-generation genome sequencing is helping them stay ahead of the mutating viruses by creating “an entire genome at higher speeds and lower costs.”

“Identifying new viruses such as this one is like searching for a needle in a haystack. By advancing our techniques and using next generation sequencing technology, we are pulling the needle out with a magnet. This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks.”
Mary Rodgers, a principal scientist and head of the Global Viral Surveillance Program, Diagnostics, Abbott, and one of the study authors.

(Delhi is in a public health emergency. The air outside is visibly toxic - how has the hazardous air #pollution impacted you? Write down your #PollutionKaSolution and send it to us at FIT@thequint.com. )

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Published: 07 Nov 2019, 03:56 AM IST

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