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Current Affairs

New strain of HIV virus discovered

Date: 08 November 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A research group at Abbott has discovered a new strain of human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, the first to be identified in 19 years.

 

Background

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.

 

Details

  • The new strain, called HIV-1 group M subtype L, is extremely rare and can be detected by Abbott’s current screening system.

  • The danger from the virus persists as a  radically new viral strain could evade detection in the blood supply, avoid being controlled by drugs and render future vaccines ineffective.

  • For scientists to be able to declare that this was a new subtype, three cases of it must be detected independently. The first two were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1983 and 1990.

  • The third sample found in Congo was collected in 2001 as a part of a HIV viral diversity study. Scientists were able to fully sequence the sample and determine that it was, in fact, subtype L of Group M.

  • Scientists assure that current HIV treatments can fight a wide variety of virus strains, and it is believed that these treatments can fight this newly named one.

HIV Virus

  • HIV is a virus that damages the immune system. The immune system helps the body fight off infections. Untreated HIV infects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell called T cells.

  •  Over time, as HIV kills more CD4 cells, the body is more likely to get various types of infections and cancers.

  • HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids that include blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, breast milk. The virus doesn’t spread in air or water, or through casual contact.

  • HIV is a lifelong condition and currently there is no cure, although many scientists are working to find one. However, with medical care, including treatment called antiretroviral therapy, it’s possible to manage HIV and live with the virus for many years.

  • Without treatment, a person with HIV is likely to develop a serious condition called AIDS. At that point, the immune system is too weak to fight off other diseases and infections.