Researchers in France have identified a new strain of HIV linked to gorillas, reported CNN.
Researchers said that the new strain was the first case of HIV linked to gorillas, all previous strains have been linked to chimpanzees, reported Bloomberg.
The new strain, known as HIV-1 or RBF 168, is closely related to simian immunodeficiency virus-gorilla (SIVgor) and cannot be detected through traditional laboratory tests, said Paul Sharp, a geneticist studying HIV at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
“My guess is that it is unlikely to become a major problem on the population level.”
BBC reported that a researcher said current treatments for HIV might still help battle the new strain’s effects.
Scientists first recognized HIV in the 1980s, though it is “thought to have first entered the human population early in the 20th Century in the region of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” reported the BBC.
Dr. David Robertson said, “This demonstrates that HIV evolution is an ongoing process…. The virus can jump from species to species, from primate to primate, and that includes us; pathogens have been with us for millions of years and routinely switch host species.”
CNN reported that a researcher said, “The human case described here does not seem to be an isolated incident, as before coming to Paris the subject had lived in the semi-urban area of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, and reported no contact with apes or bush meat.”
There are 33 million confirmed cases of AIDS worldwide.