Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Strain of AIDS found

As if AIDS hasn't ravaged Africa enough, a new strain of the virus that causes AIDS has been discovered in a woman from the African nation of Cameroon. Africa already accounts for 70% of the world's total AIDS victims. The new strain differs from the three known strains of human immunodeficiency virus and appears to be closely related to a form of simian virus recently discovered in wild gorillas, researchers report in Monday's edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

The finding "highlights the continuing need to watch closely for the emergence for new HIV variants, particularly in western central Africa," said the researchers, led by Jean-Christophe Plantier of the University of Rouen, France. The three previously known HIV strains are related to the simian virus that occurs in chimpanzees.

The most likely explanation for the new find is gorilla-to-human transmission, Plantier's team said. But they added they cannot rule out the possibility that the new strain started in chimpanzees and moved into gorillas and then humans, or moved directly from chimpanzees to both gorillas and humans.

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