Identifying a new strain helps to better show how HIV evolves. 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".
But that shouldn't be concerning to that average patient, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the news outlet. These are subtypes A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K and L (which is in the news), some of which are split further into sub-subtypes. Moreover, like much reporting on medical research, there is important contextual information one needs to understand the significance of this news. There is no motivation to accept this subtype is more hazardous or destructive than some other strain of HIV.
"This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution", said the study's co-author Dr Carole McArthur from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. To confirm the existence of a new strain, it's necessary to have three independent samples. This leads scientists to believe that the new strain will be treatable in similar ways to other group M infections.
According to estimates, 37.9 million people across the world are now living with HIV, while 1.7 million individuals contracted the virus a year ago.
Mary Rodgers, a co-author of the report and head of Global Viral Surveillance Program at Abbott, in her statement said, "It can be a real challenge for diagnostic tests". Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, 75 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus.More news: Indian duo arrested for spot-fixing
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Sagar also added that current HIV treatments should be able to combat the new strain. Researchers told CNN they have done so: two samples were discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo 1983 and 1990, while a third was located in the African nation in 2001.
Mr Cunningham said before Thursday's discovery there were HIV subtypes ranging from A to K, with various mutations of those subtypes themselves.
But a third sample, collected in 2001, has now been confirmed to belong to the same distinct genome - sufficient distinction to grant the strain its own subtype.
Rodgers says the almost decades-long process of verifying the strain's existence was akin to "searching for a needle in a haystack" and then removing the needle "with a magnet" afterward. At the time, there wasn't technology to determine if this was the new subtype. "So we've literally created technology that acts like a magnet to pull out that needle in the haystack and sequence just the virus".
Indeed, new subtype discoveries have been a result of full-genome sequencing, and have helped identify unique recombinant forms.