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Russian Scientists Report Virulent New HIV Strain

A researcher examines a sample at Russia's State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (Vector) in Koltsovo, near Novosibirsk. (file photo)
Russian scientists in Novosibirsk say a powerful new strain of the HIV virus has been discovered and is spreading at a "rapid rate."

Novosibirsk's Koltsovo science city said in a statement on October 16 that the subtype of the HIV virus -- known as 02_AG/A -- was first detected in Novosibirsk in 2006 and now accounts for more than 50 percent of the registered cases in the region.

Natalya Gashnikova, the head of Koltsovo's retroviruses department at the Vektor biotechnology research center, said the new strain might be the most virulent form of HIV in Russia.

The new strain has also been detected in Russia's North Caucasus Republic of Chechnya and in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Scientists at Koltsovo said the new strain remains poorly understood and complained they do not have the funds to properly research it.

Based on reporting by Interfax and "The Moscow Times"