PRETORIA: Scientists have discovered a new HIV strain that has been classified as HIV-1 Group M, subtype L. Group M is the strain of HIV-1 responsible for the global HIV pandemic.
The news around the newly discovered HIV strain is a reminder that the HIV pandemic implores us to remain a step ahead by leveraging on existing advancements in technology and resources to understand its full scope.
The new discovery is a subtype of a known existing group and is from a sample collected many years ago, however, due to a lack of an ideal technology in the labs at the time, there were challenges in processing the sample until recently – hence the news of a “new strain” that is not so new.
Current ART drugs have generally performed well against a variety of HIV subtypes, notwithstanding there is some evidence of subtype differences in drug resistance. Since the new strain forms part of a known major group of HIV groupings, we do not foresee major challenges with current HIV regimens currently in use.
HIV has two known types, HIV 1 and HIV 2. The latest discovery is a small variation within HIV 1, Group M and Subtype L. Therefore, it bears no major clinical significance.
If anything, this discovery may be a much-needed component in the advancements we have made in response to HIV. It is a positive development in the broader narrative for better treatment options and hopefully, a springboard in our quest for a cure in the near future.
SANAC would like to applaud the scientists on this scientific discovery, as this can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks.
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