A New HIV Strain Has Been Discovered For The First Time In 19 Years

There's no reason to panic, according to scientists.
PHOTO: Pixabay

For the first time in almost two decades, scientists have discovered a new strain of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). It’s the subtype L of the Group M version of HIV-1, according to CNN Philippines.

Current treatments are effective against this strain, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There’s no cure for HIV, but different types of drugs can treat and control the virus, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Fauci said, “There's no reason to panic or even to worry about it a little bit. Not a lot of people are infected with this. This is an outlier.”

As a virus, HIV can mutate over time, so it’s important to detect new strains and see how the virus evolves. Though this strain is a new discovery, the cases that supported it were from 1983, 1990, and 2001. This is because scientists are required to have three cases detected independently before they can declare a new subtype of the virus. Using new technology and techniques, scientists determined that it is, in fact, a new strain of HIV.

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About 37.9 million people around the world live with HIV, according to the 2018 statistics of UNAIDS. In the Philippines, the Department of Health said 35 Filipinos are infected with HIV every day. In comparison, the average in 2008 was just one per day. 

There’s now a locally available pill that reportedly prevents HIV infection by over 90 percent. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) must be taken seven days before contact and can be taken daily for as long as the person would like. As for post-contact, another pill called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PEP) reportedly prevents HIV by 95 percent when taken within 72 hours of exposure. 

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