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New Highly Virulent Strain Of HIV Emerges In Russia

NovRussia just cannot catch a break. As if the anti-gay laws and Olympics controversies weren't enough, now a new strain of HIV, dubbed 02_AG/A, is spreading like wildfire in that country. First discovered in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk (located in the Novosibirsk Oblast highlighted at right) in 2006, 02_AG/A now accounts for over 50% of new HIV infections in the region, and since its discovery the number of infections jumped a jaw-dropping 750% from 2,000 cases in 2007 to 15,000 cases in 2012.

The virus simply seems to be more virulent, not more deadly or resistant to treatment, but Russia's current social climate could make such a rapidly transmissible virus even worse. HIV research is underfunded as are treatment and testing options, and the political posturing around homophobia is making things worse. Additionally, sex education in the country is abysmal on the level of the most conservative of red states. The Moscow Times quoted Pavel Astakhov, Russia's children's rights advocate, as saying in September that he opposed teaching teenagers about sexual health in school, adding that Russian literature is "the best sex education there is."

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  1. "The virus simply seems to be more virulent, not more deadly or resistant to treatment...

    That statement contradicts itself.

    Posted by: Rob Tisinai | Oct 19, 2013 8:21:21 PM

  2. Rob, (if I'm recalling my epidemiology training correctly) "virulence" simply means how transmissible or infectious it is--i.e., how easily does it pass from person to person.

    That's very different from how deadly it is or how resistant to treatment it is.

    Posted by: redball | Oct 19, 2013 8:40:58 PM

  3. So how will the gays be blamed?

    Posted by: Stephen | Oct 19, 2013 8:44:18 PM

  4. It certainly would be interesting to know how many of those infected profess to being heterosexual.

    Posted by: *****overTX | Oct 19, 2013 9:02:19 PM

  5. I find myself wondering what could be done w/ the web to get the word out to people since their gov't would love to ignore the issue.

    Do the people they need to reach even have regular access to the web? So frustrating that they seem to embrace the brutality of their own ignorance.

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Oct 19, 2013 9:29:47 PM

  6. That HIV strain is likely already here. Practice safe sex.

    Posted by: Jay | Oct 19, 2013 9:42:21 PM

  7. Yeah, remember when the last swine flu outbreak happened it only took a day for the virus to get to my town in CT when a group of vacationers came back from Mexico. The virus is almost certainly here already.

    Posted by: Aepol1 | Oct 19, 2013 10:07:03 PM

  8. hmmm... biological weapon?

    Posted by: peter | Oct 19, 2013 10:24:06 PM

  9. We are back to cold war, the liberty so called of the west vs the control of living of the east

    Posted by: Scootsman | Oct 19, 2013 10:25:39 PM

  10. given the enormitty of the addiction problem in russia and the so called satellite countries, this oubreak is likely to affect far more than the gay community, and they will need all the help the west can give them...

    Posted by: bandanajack | Oct 19, 2013 11:18:29 PM

  11. What Bandana said. Besides all the gay and otherwise sex related stuff mentioned in the post, everyone who isn't a superwealthy oligarch is shooting some kind of drug in that lovely country. Gay people however, are the big moral threat.

    Posted by: emjayay | Oct 19, 2013 11:58:13 PM

  12. Christian Walters,

    Stop trying to weave HIV into the Russian gay rights battle. HIV has got nothing to do with sexual orientation but everything to do with being promiscuous.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 20, 2013 12:49:52 AM

  13. Russian lit is the best sex education there is? Kids, don't use a condom, throw yourself under a train instead.

    With apologies for being so glib on such a serious & frightening topic.

    Posted by: MrRoboto | Oct 20, 2013 1:32:48 AM

  14. Russian lit is the best sex education there is? Kids, don't use a condom, throw yourself under a train instead.

    With apologies for being so glib on such a serious & frightening topic.

    Posted by: MrRoboto | Oct 20, 2013 1:32:48 AM

  15. Brian,

    Not quite. It's well-established that stigmatization and discrimination against sex workers and the queer community drive those communities underground, making them a lot less likely to seek health care including prevention and treatment for HIV--which only fuels the epidemic.

    Posted by: redball | Oct 20, 2013 1:42:38 AM

  16. Redball.

    Are you trying to link prostitution to homosexuality? How bizarre.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 20, 2013 2:14:37 AM

  17. I have read before that "experts" say the human race is way overdue for a "die-off" on a massive scale.

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Oct 20, 2013 2:51:53 AM

  18. Brian,

    Huh? No. Try harder. All I'm saying is that many societies stigmatize the two--which is terrible enough, but when combined with HIV transmission can also fuel an epidemic.

    The similarities end there.

    Posted by: redball | Oct 20, 2013 3:00:19 AM

  19. There is no virulent strain of HIV. In fact, HIV is a mild virus that can be easily controlled. This 'virulent strain' notion was invented by a pathetic and desperate gay community with no respect for the truth.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 20, 2013 3:18:20 AM

  20. Condoms, condoms, condoms.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Oct 20, 2013 3:58:37 AM

  21. As others have pointed out, it's not just sex (with lack of condom use) that's a problem in Russia--massive intravenous drug issues combined with prison populations, poverty, isolation, government stupidity and denial ... All of which serve as breeding grounds for HIV transmission.

    Speaking of stupidity and denial--you never disappoint, Jason (I mean Brian etc.).

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 20, 2013 4:46:52 AM

  22. Poor Brian. He's so confused about so many things. And poor Russians - they're repeatedly victimized by their own leadership (it's as if they have Republican one-party-rule) and now they're peddling lies that are going to cost the lives of many of their children. And this strain of HIV may very well be easily passed around in heterosexual contact as it has been in Africa. No need to identify it categorically with gay sex.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Oct 20, 2013 4:51:21 AM

  23. Oh, please, we all know that gay men enjoy being linked to HIV. A lot of you see it as a mark of respect, of being special. You enjoy - and cultivate - the idea that a virus has chosen you as its victims. You are 'the chosen ones'.

    In fact, HIV didn't choose you. You - yes, you - chose it.. You created the very environments that were conducive to STD's spreading like wildfire.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 20, 2013 5:31:51 AM

  24. Poor BRIAN my left hoof DANNYEASTVILLAGE!!! (Do not care what he may say to me.) He is simply a jerk on an astronomical scale! What is really sad is that others will risk and in FAR TOO MANY CASES lose their live do to listening to his idiotic ideas on HIV and AIDS . . .

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 20, 2013 5:34:11 AM

  25. @Danny: As it already is--HIV in Siberia is very much a heterosexual problem. This strain will presumably also be. One can easily imagine the government, however, both scapegoating gay people and leaving them out of prevention efforts, if they have any.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 20, 2013 5:34:18 AM

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