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New version of HIV-1 found in Kazakhstan, or not

Laboratory technician checking blood for HIV antibodies. ©RIA Novosti Laboratory technician checking blood for HIV antibodies. ©RIA Novosti
A new form of HIV-1 virus has been found in Russia. Cases of this version of HIV have also been registered in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and the Chechen Republic, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes referring to Novosibirsk scientists. Research fellows of the State Scientific Center of Virology and Biotechnology "Vector" based in Koltsovo village in Novosibirsk Oblast found the new recombinant version of HIV-1 that they call 02_AG/A. According to the scientists, the new form of the deadly virus is spreading fast and is likely to largely replace the existing forms of the HIV-1 virus. Especially rapid spread has been registered in Siberia and the Far East - in Kemerovo, Novokuznetsk, Blagoveshensk and Khabarovsk. "The new form of HIV-1 may turn out to be the most viable version of the virus in Russia. And there is a possibility that this form will be spreading much faster then the subtype A that currently holds the leading positions," Chief of the Retrovirus Department of the State Scientific Center of Virology and Biotechnology "Vector" Natalya Gashnikova said. According to the available information the number of people infected with AIDS in Russia's Novosibirsk Oblast has grown seven-fold over the past five years and reached 15 thousand people: 1 infected per every 180 people. However, Director General of Kazakhstan's National Center for Prevention and Fighting AIDS Marat Tukeyev said that the new version of HIV-1, discovered by the Novosibirsk scientists, had never been registered in Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports. "There are nine known subtypes of HIV-1 and more that 50 various recombinant forms of HIV-1 that emerged as a result of genetic exchanges of viruses of different subtypes," he said. "HIV-1 A1 is the dominant subtype of the virus in Kazakhstan (56.9 percent) together with HIV-1 02_AG recombinant form (39.1 percent) that is widely spread in Central Asian countries. HIV-1 02_AG/A - the new form of the virus reported about by the Russian media - has never been registered in Kazakhstan," Marat Tukeyev said. However he continued that emergence of new recombinant forms of the virus at the territories frequented by different subtypes of the virus is a natural process. Clinical trends, ways of prevention and development of resistance to medications are not dependent of the subtype of HIV. "Viruses of various subtypes are similarly treated by anti-virus drugs," he added.

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