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New HIV virus type hits Uganda

Discussion in 'JF Doctor' started by ByaseL, Sep 6, 2010.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Sep 6, 2010
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    By Raymond Baguma
    and Agencies

    A new type of HIV has hit Ugandan fishing communities in Wakiso and Masaka districts on the shores of Lake Victoria, according to an ongoing research by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).

    The new virus strain has been defined as "recombinant" because it combines existing strains, the UN News agency IRIN News reported.

    The most common HIV types in Uganda are A and D, which were found in most of the 117 people from the five fishing communities.

    However, the researchers also found that 29% of the infected people have virus forms of A/D and D/A. This is evidence that HIV re-infection has occurred.

    The final data on the prevalence of the drug-resistant HIV will be available in 2012.

    Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu, the director of UVRI, said: "We are starting to see transmission of viruses that are resistant to some drugs and need to inform even those already infected not to engage in risky behaviour to avoid super-infection."

    He said people could be re-infected with a strain that is resistant to certain ARVs. IRIN News recently reported that researchers want to develop interventions targeting the fishing communities, such as education on how to reduce HIV risk through abstinence, faithfulness, condom use and male medical circumcision.

    "We want to work with these communities and learn more in order to see how we can intervene, but also prepare for future research in vaccines and microbicides [female-controlled HIV prevention products]," said Kaleebu.

    Uganda has achieved success in reducing the HIV prevalence from 30% in the 1980s, to the national average of 6.4% by using the ABC strategy which emphasises abstinence, faithfulness and condom use. However, the HIV prevalence in the fishing communities is at 28%, which is higher than the national average.

    Uganda is implementing other programmes such as Voluntary Counselling and Testing, ARV treatment as well as Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission.

    However, there are concerns the country is losing the HIV fight with evidence of stagnation in prevalence and rising new infections especially in married couples.