New HIV-1 strain discovered in Cyprus

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Cypriot scientists have discovered a recombinant strain of the HIV-1 virus circulating in Cyprus, collaborating with the Gregorios AIDS Clinic at Larnaca General Hospital.

The discovery was made by UCy’s Laboratory of Molecular Virology of the Department of Biological Sciences, led by professor Leondios Kostrikis and Brian Thomas Foley of the Los Alamos National Laboratory HIV Database (USA).

The new strain consists of four HIV-1 strains: CRF02_AG, G, J and U (U refers to an unknown subtype which does not belong to any established subtype).

This new strain was classified as a “new circulating recombinant form of HIV-1, designated as CRF91_cpx” by the Los Alamos National Laboratory HIV Database.

It was identified in 14 men living on the island.

Epidemiological analyses demonstrate that CRF91_cpx is circulating mainly among Cypriot men who have sex with men (MSM) who were infected in Cyprus.

Scientists said the data suggests an ongoing transmission of this new recombinant HIV-1 strain in Cyprus with unknown clinical manifestations.

The discovery was made by post-doctoral students Çiçek Topçu and Vassilis Georgiou, working with the UCy’s Laboratory of Molecular Virology.

The research findings were published in the international medical journal Virulence1.

HIV-1 is a retrovirus known to cause the life-threatening acquired immunodeficiency syndrome AIDS that became a global pandemic in the early 1980s.

Unlike most pandemics, HIV-1/AIDS has persisted for more than 40 years and continues to be a global health threat.

According to the World Health Organization, since the beginning of the epidemic, approximately 79.3 million people have been infected with HIV-1, and nearly 36.3 million people have died from AIDS-related diseases.

Over the past 20 years, combination antiretroviral drug therapy (ART) has been developed to specifically target HIV-1 with remarkable success, dramatically reducing mortality and enabling most people infected to live long and normal lives symptom-free.