October 21, 2013
Russian scientists believed they discovered a new, more easily transmitted type of HIV, according to local news reports. The new strain, first identified in 2006 and known as 02_AG/A, was being transmitted at a "rapid rate" in Russia, Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. A regional science city statement said this strain might account for more than 50 percent of new HIV cases.
Worldwide, new HIV infection numbers dropped by 30 percent since 2001, but according to the United Nations, Eastern Europe/Central Asia was the only region where HIV prevalence was on the rise, with the majority of cases located in Russia. Approximately 1 million of Russia's 143 million residents were HIV-positive. According to Russia's Federal AIDS Center, the number of infected people in Novosibirsk, Russia, rose from 2,000 in 2007 to 15,000 in 2012. "Russia has experienced the fastest-spreading HIV/AIDS epidemics in any one country in history, but there remains a lack of effective preventative measures to slow it down -- in large measure because the people most affected are also the country's most reviled," wrote Gregory Gilderman of the Pulitzer Center. The World Bank estimated that by 2020, nearly 21,000 Russians per month could die because of HIV/AIDS.
HIV virus is categorized into two groups: HIV-1, which is more infectious; and HIV-2. Researchers believe the 02_AG/A strain, a subtype of HIV-1, is transmitted even more easily than other strains of the virus.