This is the first new Group M HIV strain identified since guidelines for classifying subtypes were established in 2000. It is important to know what strains of the virus are circulating to ensure that tests used to detect the disease are effective. Group M viruses are responsible for the global pandemic, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Current treatments for HIV, which can reduce viral load and prevent illness, are effective against variants of the HIV virus, including the new subtype, meaning that a new strain is not a new public health crisis, but without identification of the strain, doctors can't test for it.

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