US Scientists Discover First New HIV Strain Since 2000

Henrietta Strickland
November 8, 2019

The results show the role next-generation genome sequencing is playing in helping researchers stay one step ahead of mutating viruses and avoiding new pandemics, as well as monitoring for new strains to make sure testing and treatments continue to work.

Researchers and epidemiologists said they did not expect the new strain to change the way HIV was diagnosed or treated and that the existing tests and antiretroviral drugs, which suppress the growth of HIV, were created to target the parts of the virus common to all groups. 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, assured that current treatment practices for HIV are effective against this strain or similar.

Scientists using advanced DNA sequencing technology have documented a previously unidentified strain of HIV under the group that is responsible for the vast majority of human infections. "If we can prevent even one person from becoming infected with HIV or hepatitis, then we've done our jobs".

According to the World Health Organization, about 36.7 million people in the world live with HIV. This is an outlier'.

The science behind genetic sequencing to discover new viruses To determine whether an unusual virus is in fact a new HIV subtype, three cases must be discovered independently. The third, collected in 2001, was hard to sequence at that time because of the amount of virus in the sample and the prevailing technology. In order to utilize this technology, Abbott scientists had to develop and apply new techniques to help narrow in on the virus portion of the sample to fully sequence and complete the genome.

"In an increasingly connected world, we can no longer think of viruses being contained to one location", said Carole McArthur, one of the study authors and a professor at the University of Missouri.

Rodgers compared the 2000 strain to a "needle in a haystack" and the new technology is like using a magnet to pull the needle out. In the following year, they were able to confirm the initial finding, and called it "Subtype L".

"Latest statistics from Public Health England show that around 7% of people living with HIV in the United Kingdom are unaware of their status - that's why regular HIV testing is vital and we will be getting that message out there as part of National HIV Testing Week later this month".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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