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The Independent Online
Astrain of the Aids virus which some scientists say poses a greater risk to heterosexuals than the strain most commonly found in HIV-positive gay men has been identified in the UK.

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 Hunt

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