By Robert Preidt
More than 60 epidemic strains of HIV-1 exist. This new strain has the shortest period from infection to the development of AIDS, at about five years, according to researchers at Lund University, in Sweden.
The new strain is a fusion of the two most common strains in Guinea-Bissau, a small country in West Africa. It has been identified only in that region. When two strains join, they form what's called a "recombinant."
"Recombinants seem to be more vigorous and more aggressive than the strains from which they developed," doctoral student Angelica Palm said in a Lund University news release.
Previous research has shown that the global spread of different recombinants is increasing. Moreover, increasingly mixed and complex HIV strains are becoming more common in countries and regions with high levels of immigration, such as the United States and Europe.
The new study was published online recently and will appear in the print version of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Patrik Medstrand, a professor of clinical virology at Lund University, said HIV is a dynamic and variable virus.
"New subtypes and recombinant forms of HIV-1 have been introduced to our part of the world, and it is highly likely that there are a large number of circulating recombinants of which we know little or nothing," Medstrand said in the news release. "We therefore need to be aware of how the HIV-1 epidemic changes over time."