New HIV Strain – No Need For Alarm

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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.

For media queries, please contact Nelson Dlamini, SANAC Communications: nelson@sanac.org.za / 078 731 0313