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. 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.
Scientists have managed to reconstruct the route by which HIV arrived in the US – exonerating once and for all the man long blamed for the ensuing pandemic in the west.
Using sophisticated genetic techniques, an international team of researchers have revealed that the virus emerged from a pre-existing epidemic in the Caribbean, arrived in New York by the early 1970s and then spread westwards across the US.