Researchers find new HIV strain in Singapore

PHOTO: Researchers find new HIV strain in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Researchers at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) have found a new strain of the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) in Singapore, local newspapers reported.

Named CRF51_01B, it is believed to be more aggressive and is a recombination of two existing strains. 

Recombination occurs when a person with one HIV strain is infected with another, resulting in the viruses evolving to form a new strain, with parts of the original two, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

CRF51_01B is a recombinant form of two existing strains which have been documented here, the CRF01_AE and subtype B.

There are currently 50 known recombined strains of HIV in the world, and this new one found by the hospital's Department of Infectious Diseases is believed to be the 51st.

Studies have yet to confirm if the new strain is indeed more aggressive, but it is suggested that patients with CRF51-01B could become ill sooner or develop more serious diseases.

CRF51_01B was found in 13 (11.9 per cent) out of 109 HIV patient samples collected between February 2008 and August 2009, in a study led by Dr Oon Tek Ng.