KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 – Scientists have detected a new strand of HIV for the first time in 19 years.
The strain is a part of the Group M version of HIV-1, the same family of virus subtypes causing the global HIV pandemic, according to Abbott Laboratories, which conducted the research along with the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
This is the first new Group M HIV strain identified since guidelines for classifying subtypes were published in 2000.
“It can be a real challenge for diagnostic tests,” said Mary Rodgers, a co-author of the report and a principal scientist at Abbott, according to CNN.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reportedly said current treatments for HIV are effective against this strain and others.
He added that discovering a new strain gives 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.”
Scientists are unclear on how this variant of the virus may impact the body differently, if it does act differently at all.
Current HIV treatments are believed to be able to fight the new strand as well.
“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,” added study co-author, Dr. Carole McArthur, a professor in the department of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.