First New HIV Strain in 19 Years Identified

A research group at the medical device and health care giant Abbott has discovered a new strain of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV—the first to be identified in 19 years. Abbott continues to look for potential new HIV strains to ensure that diagnostic tests for blood screening and detecting infectious diseases remain up to date, says Mary Rodgers, senior author of the paper announcing the finding and head of the company’s Global Viral Surveillance Program.


The new strain, called HIV-1 group M subtype L, is extremely rare and can be detected by Abbott’s current screening system, Rodgers says. The company’s tests screen more than 60 percent of the global blood supply, she adds, noting it must detect every strain and “has to be right every time.”

In the early days of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, some blood donors unaware that they had HIV added the virus to the blood supply. A large number of patients who needed regular blood transfusions—among them, many with hemophilia—ended up contracting HIV and often dying. The supply has been essentially clear of HIV for years, and Rodgers says efforts such as Abbott’s will help keep it that way.


HIV/AIDS is a primary cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. It is no longer always a death sentence, thanks to lifelong antiretroviral therapy, but getting treatment to patients is a challenge. Now researchers have conducted one of the most geographically specific analyses to date of HIV prevalence in 47 sub-Saharan countries. The study could help authorities better target treatment and prevention efforts.

[SIZE=6]Why the US cut funding for HIV in Kenya… disorganization and incompetence…[/SIZE]

The United States has for the first time explained why it has cut health funding to the Kenyan government, saying that the move was not malicious but driven by programs and data. Kenya has received about Sh700 billion from Pepfar since it was founded 15 years ago, and the country remains the program’s largest beneficiary.


However, from the explanation given to the Sunday Nation by Dr Demby during a tour of the entity’s offices last month in Washington, DC, Kenya has been carrying forward a lot of unspent money when there are some desperate countries in need of the money.
He revealed that for the five years that the agency has been funding Kenya, the country spends $200 million less every year.
After the figures were reviewed, it was found that Kenya was sitting on a $1 billion (over Sh100 billion) that had not been spent in five years.

“You give them $500 million, they spend $300 million and next year you give them another $500 million and they spend the same amount, and five years later it’s an accumulation of a billion dollars,” Dr Demby told the Sunday Nation.
“When you look at other countries like Malawi and Botswana, where we are putting in a lot less, the number of patients in care is very similar to that in Kenya, hence begging the question why are we spending more money in Kenya for the same results we get in other countries getting less?”
“In a lot of cases, we were not removing money from Kenya but deducting the unspent amount from next year’s budget,” he said.