Previously undiscovered HIV strain identified

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com July 02 2003 12:00 AM ET

A researcher in Ireland has uncovered a previously unidentified strain of HIV that may aid scientists in their quest for an HIV vaccine. Grace McCormack of the National University of Ireland-Maynooth writes in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses that the strain was identified in blood samples taken from people in Malawi in the 1980s. Because the virus is about 20 years old and has not been seen in other HIV-positive people in Malawi or elsewhere in the world, it's possible the strain is a weakened version of the virus that was not able to withstand immune system defenses against it. "Because of that, it may give us information on how to defeat the virus," McCormack says. McCormack has applied for additional funding to continue her studies of the viral strain and hopes to have the project completed within the next three years.