A ‘new’ HIV strain has been discovered, but health experts say that we don’t need to panic…

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 ‘new’ strain is not so new

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 had been challenges in processing the sample until recently – hence the news of a “new strain” that is not so new.

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Why there’s no need to panic

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, health experts 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 made in response to HIV. It is a positive development for better treatment options and hopefully, a springboard in the quest for a cure.

Source: South African National AIDS Council