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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


RUSSIA:   "Growing Number of Army Draftees Have HIV"
Moscow Times    (07.15.05):: Stephen Boykewich

CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update 07/21/2005

Two recent reports on AIDS in the world's armed forces warn that Russia faces a grave situation. A UNAIDS report tracked progress on UN Security Resolution 1308, adopted in 2000 to address the threat of an unchecked HIV/AIDS pandemic on international security. The other report, "HIV and National Security: Where Are the Links?" was prepared by Laurie Garrett for the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Both reports are partly based on the research of Murray Feshbach of the Woodrow Wilson Center, an expert on the effect of infectious diseases in Russia.

Feshbach said that in Western Europe and North America, "70-odd percent of the total prevalence of HIV/AIDS is among people 30 and over. In Russia, 83 percent are 15- to 29-year-olds. That's the core group of potential conscriptees." Major General Valery Kulikov, a top military medical officer, said 9,000 potential draftees were rejected because of HIV during the past five years, adding that was only the "tip of the iceberg" since HIV screening for draftees is not systematic.



Russia dismisses drafted soldiers with HIV, but contract soldiers and officers continue to serve while they are fit for duty. The UNAIDS report said 0.8 percent of Russia's military, or 96,000 out of 1.2 million, have HIV/AIDS. The CFR report, Feshbach and others say the number may be higher.

Marina Shegai, director of the Moscow-based nongovernmental organization Aktsent, said soldiers stigmatize and lack information about HIV and that military doctors contribute to the problem. However, she has seen increasing cooperation among military officials, noting that her organization has led a series of initiatives to educate draftees and soldiers.

Akram Eltom, an AIDS project director with the World Health Organization, said only an urgent Kremlin-led effort can reverse the growing epidemic in Russian society at large, including the military. "Russia still has the past legacy, as well as current health system and public sector apparatus, that when the entire state apparatus is mobilized to achieve a certain goal, it can be achieved," he said.