Now, for the first time in 19 years, a new type of HIV has been named, subtype L of the HIV-1 M Group, thanks to researchers with Abbott Laboratories and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
"We conclude that the epidemiologically unlinked isolates CG-0018a-01, 83CD003, and 90CD121E12 may now be classified as HIV-1 group M, subtype L. This is the first new subtype classification identified since the nomenclature guidelines were established in 2009", the researchers wrote in the JAIDS article.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, assured that the present drugs that are active against HIV are capable of fighting this new strain of HIV as well. "There is no reason to panic or even worry a little". Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, 75 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus. "This is an outlier". In other words, as technology advances, and scientists learn more, new subtypes will inevitably surface.More news: China, US agree to roll back additional tariffs
The strain was declared new after three independent cases were reported, all in the DRC.
Scientists such as Abbott's Mary Rodgers say it's crucial to understand the various strains to ensure tests for the virus are accurate. The team said that two cases of this strain of infection were detected in 1983 and 1990 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From 1977-1979 she carried out post-doctoral study at the University of Florida and obtained an MD degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1991.
The discovery of the new strain is important as it can help scientists and doctors track how HIV evolves over time. Both subtypes and sub-subtypes of the HIV-1 M group are believed to have originated from a single chimpanzee-to-human transmission.More news: Paul George Expected To Debut With Clippers By Nov. 14
Rodgers says the almost decades-long process of verifying the strain's existence was akin to "searching for a needle in a haystack" and then removing the needle "with a magnet" afterward. "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.
Technological improvements over the last few years have provided researchers with the ability to get entire genomes faster and from smaller samples. The company said it would make available the new HIV strain to the research community to evaluate its impact on diagnostic testing, treatments and potential vaccines.More news: Italy introduces mandatory climate change lessons in schools
"We really need to be monitoring them to stay one step ahead of the virus", she said, adding that "the program now includes 78,000 samples from 45 countries".