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Scientists Discover New Strain of HIV Closely Related to Simian Virus

August 3, 2009

Scientists have discovered a new strain of HIV in a 62-year-old woman from Cameroon that "differs from the three known strains ... and appears to be closely related to a form of simian virus recently discovered in wild gorillas" according to a study in today's edition of the journal Nature Medicine, AP/Washington Times reports. The study was funded by the NIH and the Tietze Foundation (8/3). "The discovery of this novel HIV-1 lineage highlights the continuing need to watch closely for the emergence of new HIV variants, particularly in western central Africa, the origin of all existing HIV-1 groups," researchers note in the study (Reuters, 8/3). According to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle, the woman had no contact with gorillas or meat from wild animals and "currently shows no signs of AIDS and remains untreated, though she still carries the virus, the researchers said." The article adds, "How widespread this strain is remains to be determined. Researchers said it could be circulating unnoticed in Cameroon or elsewhere."

A separate paper also in today's edition of Nature Medicine, "reports that people with genital herpes remain at increased risk of HIV infection even after the herpes sores have healed and the skin appears normal," according to the AP/Chronicle (Schmid, 8/3).

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