New strain of HIV detected for the first time in 19 years

A team of scientists discovered a new strain of HIV for the first time in 19 years and published the findings Wednesday.

The strain is a subtype of HIV, labeled subtype L, and is part of group M. It’s extremely rare, according to Scientific American. The subtype is part of the most common form of HIV around the world, CNN reported.

The study was published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome by researchers working for Abbott Laboratories and the University of Missouri, Kansas City, who discovered the strain.

Abbott Laboratories tests more than 60 percent of the world’s blood supply, Scientific American reported, and the company continues to look for new strains through various blood screenings.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN that current HIV treatments will work against the new strain and provides insight into how HIV evolves over time.

According to the study abstract, new strains must be detected at least three times to be considered a “true subtype.” The first two detections of the group M subtype L strain were in 1983 and 1990 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The third detection of the subtype was discovered in Congo in 2001, but scientists spent more time looking into the sample to make sure it was indeed a new strain.

There were 37.9 million people around the world living with HIV as of 2018, according to the World Health Organization.

While the virus has killed more than 30 million people, the WHO stated that new HIV infection rates fell by 37 percent and deaths fell by 45 percent between 2000 and 2018.