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Strains from Group M are the most common in humans and are responsible for the global AIDS pandemic. M strains have infected about 90% of the 37.9 million people that the World Health Organization estimated were living with HIV last year. Group O, N and P infections are rare but can also affect humans.

Wednesday’s Abbott Labs findings have established a 10th group M strain. The three people who are known to carry it live in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the first HIV infection surfaced in a human in the mid-1900s. Decades later, the virus spread rapidly around the globe.

Researchers and epidemiologists don’t expect the new Group M strain to change the way HIV is diagnosed or treated. Existing diagnostic tests and antiretroviral drugs, which suppress the growth of HIV, are designed to target the parts of the virus that are common to all groups.

“The study, published today  in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, serves as a reminder of the dangerous diversity of the HIV virus, says Jonah Sacha, a professor at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health & Science University , who was not involved in the new research,” Scientific American reported. “’This tells us that the HIV epidemic is still ongoing and still evolving,’ he says. ‘The calling card of HIV is its diversity. That’s what’s defeated all of our attempts to create a vaccine.’ More than 37 million people live with HIV worldwide—the most ever recorded. ‘People think it’s not a problem anymore, and we’ve got it under control. But, really, we don’t,’ Sacha says.”

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