Scientists discover first new HIV strain in nearly two decades

For the first time in 19 years, a team of scientists have detected a new strain of HIV.

Posted: Nov 7, 2019 3:48 AM
Updated: Nov 7, 2019 4:45 AM


For the first time in 19 years, a team of scientists has detected a new strain of HIV.

The strain is a part of the Group M version of HIV-1, the same family of virus subtypes to blame for the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City. The findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

HIV has several different subtypes or strains, and like other viruses, it has the ability to change and mutate over time. This is the first new Group M HIV strain identified since guidelines for classifying subtypes were established in 2000. It is important to know what strains of the virus are circulating to ensure that tests used to detect the disease are effective.

'It can be a real challenge for diagnostic tests,' Mary Rodgers, a co-author of the report and a principal scientist at Abbott, said. Her company tests more than 60% of the world's blood supply, she said, and they have to look for new strains and track those in circulation so 'we can accurately detect it, no matter where it happens to be in the world.'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said current treatments for HIV are effective against this strain and others. However, identifying a new strain provides a more complete map of how HIV evolves.

'There's no reason to panic or even to worry about it a little bit,' Fauci said. 'Not a lot of people are infected with this. This is an outlier.'

For scientists to be able to declare that this was a new subtype, three cases of it must be detected independently. The first two were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1983 and 1990.

The two strains were 'very unusual and didn't match other strains,' Rodgers said. The third sample found in Congo was collected in 2001 as a part of a study aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus. The sample was small, and while it seemed similar to the two older samples, scientists wanted to test the whole genome to be sure. At the time, there wasn't technology to determine if this was the new subtype.

So scientists at Abbott and the University of Missouri developed new techniques to study and map the 2001 sample. Rodgers said it was 'like searching for a needle in a haystack,' and then 'pulling the needle out with a magnet.'

They were able to fully sequence the sample, meaning they were able to create a full picture of what it was, and determine that it was, in fact, subtype L of Group M.

It's unclear how this variant of the virus may impact the body differently, if it does act differently at all. Current HIV treatments can fight a wide variety of virus strains, and it is believed that these treatments can fight this newly named one.

'This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to out think this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution,' study co-author, Dr. Carole McArthur, a professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, said in a statement.

About 36.7 million in the world are living with HIV, according to World Health Organization. UNAIDS estimates that in 2016, some 1.8 million people became newly infected.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 173626

Reported Deaths: 2457
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34641566
Washington23309229
Marion20037299
Clackamas15216204
Lane11478144
Jackson9846127
Umatilla795383
Deschutes698772
Linn410763
Yamhill407074
Malheur342558
Polk341752
Klamath340859
Josephine304262
Douglas302765
Benton272518
Jefferson205932
Coos196631
Columbia153326
Union141124
Lincoln129720
Wasco128628
Hood River112429
Morrow107815
Clatsop8838
Crook86819
Baker85114
Curry5919
Tillamook5763
Lake4137
Grant4044
Harney3046
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam551
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3714587

Reported Deaths: 60922
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122811823601
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2944644544
San Diego2745663662
Orange2687624886
Santa Clara1167722013
Kern1077641317
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1004311642
Alameda850891475
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66839781
Stanislaus603061028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43260352
San Mateo41050560
San Francisco35947517
Santa Barbara33830446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29632311
Imperial27920718
Kings22755245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16234239
Santa Cruz15554203
Marin13851226
Yolo13547199
Shasta11677217
Butte11529196
El Dorado9688109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito596963
Lassen566624
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador361646
Humboldt358737
Lake339943
Glenn235425
Colusa219216
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4197
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
Medford
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 78°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 46°
Medford
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 78°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 78°
Klamath Falls
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 67°
Very warm Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events