Scientists Discover New Strain of HIV: Subtype L of Group M

Nearly two decades have passed since scientists found a new strain of HIV.  Today, CNN reveals the findings of Abott Laboratories Group-M version of HIV-1, which contains the same virus subtypes to blame for the global HIV pandemic in 2000.  For scientist to declare that there is a new subtype, three cases must be found independently:

1983 – Democratic Republic of Congo

1990 – Democratic Republic of Congo

2001 – Democratic Republic of Congo

The strain was said to be “very unusual and didn’t match other strains” according to principal scientist at Abott, Mary Rodgers. The 2001 findings were accidental, as they were found during a study aimed at preventing mother to child transmission.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, classifies this strain as an outlier.  The research involved in finding this new strain was conducted by both Abott Labs as well as the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  These findings were published on Wednesday in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

The Group-M strain is harder to detect with tests conducted for presence of the disease.  Dr. Anthony Fauci says the current medication used to treat HIV may still be effective against this strain and others.  The discovery of this new strain provides a more complex map of how HIV evolves. Since the strain is harder to detect, those with this type of infection may not receive treatment in time.  In the event the strain is detected, however, it is believed that current HIV treatment can fight this newly names strain.


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

– Dr. Carole McArthur, a professor in the department of oral and  craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

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