New strain of HIV detected for 1st time in nearly 20 years United States researchers have identified the first new strain of HIV since the year 2000, further expanding our knowledge of the extraordinarily complex virus.
Since the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was first discovered in the United States almost four decades ago, several strains have been identified - allowing doctors to better tailor diagnostic testing and drug treatments. In HIV-1, there are multiple strains.
This is the same family of virus subtypes that should be blamed for the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research together with the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Since then, this is the first time that a Group M HIV strain has been identified.
According to estimates, 37.9 million people across the world are now living with HIV, while 1.7 million individuals contracted the virus previous year.
Abbott scientists said the company's core and molecular laboratory diagnostic tests can detect this new strain of HIV.
"There's no reason to panic or even to worry about it a little bit", Fauci said.
Since the discovery of HIV in 1983, over 75 million people have been infected with HIV and over 37 million persons are living with the virus today. "This is an outlier".
In 2000 the guidelines for identification of a new strain of HIV were outlined.
"This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks", Rodgers said. "At the time, there wasn't technology to determine if this was [a] new subtype". A third isolated sample was found in 2001 and was the main objective of this study. To confirm the existence of a new strain, it's necessary to have three independent samples. Rodgers described it as "searching for a needle in a haystack". "So scientists at Abbott and the University of Missouri developed new techniques to study and map the 2001 sample". The team wrote, "Metagenomic (mNGS) and HIV-specific target enriched (HIV-xGen) libraries were combined for next generation sequencing (NGS) to extend genome coverage".
Technological improvements over the last few years have provided researchers with the ability to get entire genomes faster and from smaller samples. There are two types of the virus: HIV-1 and HIV-2, the latter of which is relatively rare.
"The primary concern is that HIV might evolve to the extent that testing wouldn't work", said Rodgers. Other candidate vaccines are in trials under evaluation. She said, "We're not going to slow down. We can never become complacent, we need to be proactive and we're working to stay a step ahead of the virus". "To prevent new infections, we have to understand how they have spread in the past".