Scientists at an Illinois laboratory have discovered the first new strain of HIV in 19 years.
Researchers at Abbott are calling the new strain HIV-1 Group M, subtype L.1. The company is making the new strain accessible to other scientists and labs for research.
The discovery was published this week in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
According to the lab, 75 million people have been infected with HIV since the beginning of the global AIDS pandemic. More than 37 million people live with the virus.
This research marks the first time a new subtype of the virus has been identified since guidelines for classifying new strains of HIV were established in 2000.
To determine if an unusual virus is a new HIV subtype, three cases must be discovered independently. The first two samples of the new strain were discovered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1980s and 1990s. The third, collected in 2001, was difficult to sequence because of the amount of virus in the sample and the existing technology.
The new strain, the lab said, is extremely rare.
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