Newscast Media WASHINGTON—A scientific research center in Siberia said Wednesday that it has discovered a new strain of HIV in Russia and that the virus is spreading “at a rapid rate.”
The subtype, known as 02_AG/A, was first detected in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk in 2006 and now accounts for more than 50 percent of new HIV infections in the region, Novosibirsk’s Koltsovo science city said in a statement.
The number of HIV-positive people living in the Novosibirsk Region has leaped from about 2,000 in 2007 up to 15,000 in 2012, the statement said, citing Russia’s Federal AIDS Center.
02_AG/A might be the most virulent form of HIV in Russia, said Natalya Gashnikova, head of the retroviruses department at the Vektor state biotechnology research center at Koltsovo, whose specialists discovered the strain.
She said the virus could spread much faster than Russia’s current leading HIV strain, subtype A(I).
The new strain is not limited to the vast area of Siberia. It has been detected in Russia’s southern republic of Chechnya, as well as the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the institute said.
HIV, a retrovirus that causes slow failure of the immune system, has two types: HIV-1 and HIV-2. The latter is considered less virulent and transmissible. Scientists say HIV-1 is the most common strain, and divide it into subtypes based on various forms that are grouped in geographic regions around the world.
According to the United Nations, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are the only regions in the world where the HIV infection is clearly on the rise. Fifty-two percent of the HIV-positive people that live across that area are in Russia.
The disease remains poorly understood in Russia and, according to experts at Koltsovo, research into the spread and properties of new HIV strains is underfunded. Russian schools generally offer little or no sex education, a factor that is believed to contribute to a high HIV infection rate from lack of awareness about sexually transmitted diseases.
Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s rights advocate, said in September that he opposed teaching teenagers about sexual health in school, adding that Russian literature is “the best sex education there is.”
Source: Ria Novosti
by Leonardo Blair
Newscast Media JACKSON, Miss—If you ever wondered how much of an impact the Christian faith of Dr. Hannah Gay, the University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician whose treatment “functionally cured” a baby girl born with an HIV infection, has had on her work, you don’t have to anymore. Her faith is “everything,” she says.
The former Baptist missionary who spent years living with her husband in Ethiopia in the 1980s opened up about her faith to the Baptist Press in a recent interview and she explained that her Christian faith defines her life.
“My faith affects everything I do. It defines who I am,” she said. “It is actually everything I do and that includes my medical career. And certainly it’s the love of Christ that I’m passing on to these children [patients]. It’s not anything from myself; it comes from my faith.”
The University of Mississippi Medical Center announced early last month that the quiet, devout Christian and mother of four was part of a three-member team that happened upon a “functional cure” for HIV through the use of standard anti-retroviral drugs. She refers to her involvement in pediatric AIDS treatment as “evidence of divine humor,” as quite like the discovery of the “functional cure,” it was unplanned.
Dr. Gay only got involved with the specialty in 1994 because the job wasn’t full-time and she was still able to be a wife and mother. “The part-time position that was open at that time here at University Medical Center was to help with the HIV clinic. So, I took it for that reason. Unfortunately, it remained part-time work for only about two months. And then it became super full-time work. But I enjoyed it,” she said. “I was not at all trained in HIV… but apparently God chose me for it,” she said.
Since the announcement of the breakthrough, Gay has become somewhat of a hero in local and national media and on March 19, the Mississippi Legislature honored her for the feat. As the media frenzy over the functional cure has calmed down somewhat in recent weeks, Dr. Gay is all too happy to get back to the work that brought her fame. Before that, though, she highlighted that Christians and churches can play a vital role in preventing the disease by engaging their communities to know Christ.
“Our social consciousness needs to be centered on the Gospel and how the Gospel and Christ living in us can educate our lifestyle choices. And that will be the prevention of not only HIV but a whole host of other human suffering,” the doctor noted. “Christians and churches need to be engaged in their communities with education about Christ,” she added.
In a response from the Medical Center on Thursday, Dr. Gay also addressed concerns over whether or not the baby’s mother had given consent for the child to be treated by the hospital for HIV.
“The short answer is that I did talk to the mom prior to starting triple drug therapy on the baby and her response was to say, ‘Please do whatever you need to do to keep my baby healthy,’” noted Dr. Gay. “It certainly was not the complete education that I like to give to moms before initiating therapy but considering that she had only learned that day of her own diagnosis, I knew that it would be impossible for her to understand all of the pathogenesis of HIV within the time limitations that we had.”