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New strain of HIV discovered

3rd August 2009

Scientists have concluded that gorillas are also the source of HIV infections in humans following the discovery of a new strain of the virus.

This is the first strain of the virus that has been linked to gorillas rather than chimpanzees, which have previously been found to be the original cause of the infection.

A team including scientists from the University of Manchester discovered the new strain following tests on a 62-year-old Cameroonian woman who moved to Paris in 2004.

The strain was found to be more closely linked to the SIV gorilla virus than the HIV strain infecting humans.

Dr David Robertson of the University of Manchester said that this demonstrates that HIV is still evolving.

He said: 'The virus can jump from species to species, from primate to primate, and that includes us.

'It also highlights how human mobility can rapidly transfer a virus from one geographical location to another as has been dramatically evident with the recent emergence of swine flu.'

HIV currently affects around 33 million globally and was first recognised by the scientific community in the 1980s.

© W&G Foyle Ltd
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