The Public Health Laboratory Service reported the first case of HIV1 subtype E in May, and have now identified 72 people - 60 men and 12 women - who may be infected with the strain. The majority of them contracted subtype E after heterosexual contact in Thailand, or after sex with someone who had been there, according to a report in New Scientist.
Subtype E is believed to have arisen in Thailand and was first reported about four years ago as a strain "adapted" for heterosexual transmission, rather than homosexual transmission, or transmission through dirty needles. A team from Harvard School of Public Health in the US last year reported that the strain was more adept at infecting cells lining the vagina and tip of the penis.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said that surveillance of subtype E was under way, and that HIV tests of donated blood "are expected to identify antibodies to all subtypes of HIV1". Liz HuntReuse content