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New and more virulent strain of HIV is spreading rapidly through Russia, claim scientists

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  • The HIV subtype 02_AG/A  is spreading rapidly and is now thought to account for more than 50 per cent of  new HIV infections in Siberia
  • It is thought to be the most virulent  subtype of the virus in Russia
  • Infections have also been reported in  Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

By  Emma Innes

PUBLISHED: 06:42 EST, 17  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 06:51 EST, 17 October 2013

Russian scientists believe they have  identified a new and more virulent strain of HIV.

The subtype, known as 02_AG/A, is spreading  rapidly and is now thought to account for more than 50 per cent of new HIV  infections in Siberia.

The virus was first seen in the city of  Novosibirsk in 2006 and is thought to be the most virulent subtype of the virus  in Russia.

Russian scientists believe they have identified a new and more virulent strain of HIV. The subtype, known as 02_AG/A, is spreading rapidly. Image shows mature HIV virus infection 

Russian scientists believe they have identified a new  and more virulent strain of HIV. The subtype, known as 02_AG/A, is spreading  rapidly. Image shows mature HIV virus infection

 

It was discovered by scientists at the State  Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Siberia, The Moscow News reports.

Natalya Gashnikova, head of the retroviruses  department at Vektor, said 02_AG/A could spread through the population much more  quickly than the current main HIV strain found in Russia.

The number of HIV positive people in  Novosibirsk has jumped from 2,000 in 2007 to 15,000 in 2012, according to  Russia’s Federal AIDS Centre and 50 per cent of the new cases have been caused  by 02_AG/A.

The newly identified subtype is not confined  to Siberia – cases have also been reported in Chechnya, in the south of Russia,  and Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

HIV can be divided into two main types –  HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the more virulent of the two and is, therefore,  responsible for the majority of cases.

HIV-1 can also be divided into subgroups and  the newly discovered 02_AG/A is a subgroup of HIV-1.

All of the subgroups are transmitted from  person to person through the same transmission methods – including unprotected  sex and sharing needles – but some are easier to pass on than others.

02_AG/A is thought to be easier to transmit  than some other subtypes.

The virus was first seen in the city of Novosibirsk in 2006 and is thought to be the most virulent subtype of the virus in Russia 

The virus was first seen in the city of Novosibirsk in  2006 and is thought to be the most virulent subtype of the virus in Russia. It  is now thought to account for more than 50 per cent of new HIV infections in  Siberia

 

UN figures show that the only regions where  the number of HIV infections is increasing are Eastern Europe and Central Asia –  52 per cent of people with HIV in this area live in  Russia.

This is  believed to be partly because there  is little awareness of HIV in many  parts of Russia and because Russian school  offer very little sex  education.

The number  of new HIV infections globally  has plummeted by a third since 2001 and  more than halved among children, the  United Nations recently revealed.

Globally, 2.3 million people contracted the  AIDS virus last year – down 33 per  cent from 2001, while 260,000 children  became infected – 52 per cent  less than in 2001.

‘The annual number of new HIV infections  continues to decline with especially sharp reductions in the number of children  newly infected with HIV,’ UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe  said.

Last year, 1.6 million people died of  AIDS-related deaths, down from 1.8 million in 2011 and 2.3 million in  2005.

The report showed that 9.7 million people in  low and middle-income countries, the bulk of those infected, had access to HIV  drugs last year, compared to only 1.3 million seven years  earlier.

While the hike is impressive, it falls short  of a UN target announced two years ago to reach 15 million people by  2015.

Some 35.3 million people were living with the  virus last year – about 70 per cent of them in sub-Saharan Africa – up from 30  million in 2001.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2464403/New-virulent-strain-HIV-spreading-rapidly-Russia-claim-scientists.html#ixzz2hzqsBz5g Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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