It’s just days when I left Uganda and my friends messages keep on coming in. Today I received a rather interesting one.
“Take good care of yourself, there’s a new strain of HIV am sure as you have learnt and it’s looking for more people to jump on.” This message made my day. Why? Who gets advice on HIV from a friend and in an email? It’s just not many. Well the fact that you can have someone say something that important in a casual ‘easy’ conversation tells a lot about how far my country has come in dealing with HIV whether it is about information on prevention or dealing with stigma.
In the past there was a lot of stigma that I imagine for a friend to send you such a message you would say hold on a moment does she think that am that wild to give me this advice? But things have loosened up and people know better. And I chose to cite this message because I wanted to highlight the plight of some African women and this week I call it Women who need the grace. And one such woman is an unnamed Cameroonian. She’s the first to be identified with a new strain of HIV. A new strain of HIV has been discovered in a woman from Cameroon. It differs
from the three known strains and appears to be closely related to a form of the virus recently discovered in wild gorillas, researchers reported today in the journal Nature Medicine.
The finding “highlights the continuing need to watch closely for the emergence of new HIV variants, particularly in western central Africa,” said the researchers, led by Jean-Christophe Plantier of the University of Rouen, France.
This unnamed Cameroonian woman needs the grace and I hope the new strain is contained and that it is not yet wide spread. Although there’s no HIV drug/vaccine yet, major steps have been made and that’s why we have Antiretroviral drugs which help HIV carriers’ immune systems and with increased access to drugs, places worst hit by HIV like Africa have been so hopeful. The three previously known HIV strains are related to the simian virus that occurs in chimpanzees. The most likely explanation for the new find is gorilla-to-human transmission.
It’s still a mystery how the virus actually got to the woman and not much is known about how it will react to existing drugs so I can only imagine what this woman is going through. Many newspapers in Uganda have already given the development a lead and although it may be very scaring, it’s good for people to have this revelation as it comes. I say spread the word on this strain whichever way and keep us informed, this way we can stay at the top and save ourselves.