Earlier this year, scientists conformed the existence of a new strain of HIV, one of the worlds most infamous diseases. It was the first new strain confirmation in 19 years – but do not take that to mean that the disease is mutating and will cause a host of new issues. While just confirmed, this strain was first observed in 1983! What researchers have to do to be able to prove that a new strain exists however, is show 3 indisputable cases that have the same markers on them. They thought they had it over a decade ago, but were unable to prove it indisputably. But with new genetic testing techniques made available in the last few years, confirmation was finally possible!
This is important because understanding how a strain is different is crucial to treating it. It is why each year they recommend a new flu shot, because it is a different strain then the one from previous years that you were inoculated against. HIV, and by association AIDS, are still very dangerous diseases, with over 1 million people dying annually from AIDS. But things have gotten drastically better than they were 20 years ago! People nowadays can live fairly healthy lives while being HIV+ as long as they have access to medical care and consistent medication. And this is all made easier by breakthroughs in research and knowledge, like knowing exactly what strain is being dealt with.