Sydney Hair Clinic Patients May be Exposed to HIV Risk After Treatment; New HIV Strains

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By Reissa Su | December 17, 2013 4:47 PM EST

Australian authorities have warned the New Zealand Ministry of Health that bald patients of a hair treatment clinic in Sydney may have been exposed to HIV and other infectious diseases because of poor infection control practices.

New Zealanders who sought cosmetic hair treatment and replacement in the Sydney clinic now bore the risk of a blood-borne infection. Australia issued the warning for patients who were treated in the clinic of Dr Angela Campbell, located in Macquarie Street. Those who went there for treatment between the period of Dec. 2010 and Feb. 2013 might be affected.

Australian health authorities investigated the Sydney hair clinic and found that the facility had problems with the cleaning and sterilisation of surgical instruments and equipment. The clinic's neighbours in the building expressed concern regarding the clinic's method of disposing medical waste.

Dr Campbell's medical licence has been suspended since February 2013 while the case is being reviewed and investigated by the Medical Council of New South Wales.

South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit Professor Mark Ferson said there could be a "few hundred" people who need to submit themselves for testing.

NSW health authorities said that the overall risk may be low but, patients who sought treatment during the advised period might have been exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C because of the clinic's poor infection control practices.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health has recommended that affected patients will need to contact the Healthline for free on 0800-611-116 for consultation and assistance. The health ministry can also assist patients in contacting the South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit who issued the warning.

Development of new HIV strains

The fight against HIV continues in Africa, where the most number of cases of HIV/AIDS come from. Researchers have discovered a new HIV strain which could lead to the rapid development of AIDS.

Scientists from Lund University said that the new HIV strain called A3/O2 is a combination of two common HIV strains found in Guinea-Bissau. People who are infected with the new HIV strain develop AIDS in five years. The rate is faster than those with more common strains by more than 1 year.

Researchers have also discovered that people with the A3/O2 strain are more likely to develop AIDS and die from it. The new strain has been identified only in West Africa. However, scientists believe that HIV strains around the world may be combining to form different strains which doctors may find more difficult to treat. 

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