Worrying developments from Siberia this week where researchers at Novosibirk’s ‘Koltsovo Science City’ have announced the discovery of a new subtype of HIV.
The new subtype was initially detected back in 2006, but thought to be a one off, now in 2013 this new subtype, dubbed 02_AG/A, accounts for over 50% of new HIV infections in the Siberian city.
The subtype, which differs from the HIV A(1) strain most commonly found in the developed world, may be “the most virulent form of HIV in the country.”
Researchers have found that 02_AG/A is capable of replicating and spreading much more rapidly than the more common A(1) subtype leading to a fear of a new HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.
The United Nations recently released a report stating that Central Asia and Eastern Europe are the only regions in the world where HIV infections are on the rise. This is backed up by findings from the Russian Federal AIDS Centre which has released figures showing that the number of people living with HIV in the Novosibirk area has rocketed from 2,000 in 2007 to 15,000 in 2012.
Research and estimates from The World Bank put the number of HIV/AIDS related deaths in Russia at 20,000 per month by 2020 if the situation does not improve, and indeed in a country where 1,000,000 people are HIV-positive and in many cases unable to receive the appropriate treatment it’s, unfortunately, not hard to see that happening.