For the first time since 2000, scientists say they have discovered a new strain of HIV.

Researchers have identified a new HIV strain, the first detected in nearly 20 years.

In a study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal in the journal Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes, a group of researchers from Abbott Laboratories, the University of Missouri and the Presbyterian Mission Agency confirmed the first new HIV strain since 2000, for the classification of HIV strains.

The strain is classified as subtype L in group M. HIV-1

two main types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. There are numerous strains within HIV-1. Group M, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is the strain that has led to the global HIV epidemic.

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Isolated samples of subtype L virus were first observed in DRC in 1983 and again in 1990. A third sample was discovered in 2001 d., the basis of this study; However, researchers have not been able to sequence or identify the genome to identify it as an HIV subtype until this year.

"Identifying new viruses like this is like looking for a hay needle," Mary Rogers, Abbott's chief scientist, said in a statement. "This scientific breakthrough can help us ensure that we stop new pandemics in their tracks."


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The forms of this new strain of HIV virus may circulate, both in the DRC and elsewhere, but have not yet been classified.

Manish Sagar, an assistant professor at Boston University, told the United States today that this further proves the existence of various HIV strains in the world. It is not related to the study.

The expected prevalence of subtype L, according to the researchers in the study, is "much lower than found" in the study and as such is unlikely to be spread. It is useful to collect and identify emerging forms of the virus as it mutates and moves over time.

Sagar added that existing HIV treatments should be effective in combating this new strain. "In the absence of any data, there is no reason to suspect that current drugs will not be effective against this strain," he told USA TODAY.

"This finding reminds us that in order to end the pandemic against HIV, we must continue to overcome this ever-changing virus and use the latest advances in technology and resources to track its evolution," said in a statement co-authored with Professor Carol MacArthur of the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Follow Joshua Botha on Twitter: @joshua_bote


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