Scientists in Uganda study formation of hybrid HIV strains

David Kihumuro-Apuuli, head of the Uganda Aids Commission told reporters that although hybrid viruses also known as ‘recombinant’ viruses have existed in Uganda for years, scientists at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) are trying to investigate what leads to their formation.

“These recombinant viruses are not new HIV strains in Uganda; they have been seen over the last many years in our populations. What scientists at the Medical Research Council/UVRI are trying to do is to find out how this occurs and why are viruses recombining, ” he said.

In Uganda there are two major HIV-1 strains A and D that have been reported. There also some other strains such as C and B, though theses are in smaller numbers.

Studies have shown that these strains have combined to form for instance A/D or D/A.

Apuuli said that the findings of the study which will be released in 2012 will also indicate whether the recombinant viruses are resistant to drugs.

He said the results will also show whether HIV infected people are reinfected to form the recombinant viruses or whether they acquired the combination from the start.

The study is being carried out among fishing communities in Wakiso and Masaka districts on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Uganda has achieved success in reducing the HIV prevalence from 30 percent in the 1980s, to the current national average of 6.4 percent.

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.

(Mathaba and Agencies)

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