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

  


 

Top Russian Official Says One In 25 Could Have HIV In Five Years

Thursday, May 22, 2003

The top Russian government HIV/AIDS expert, Vadim Pokrovsky of the Russian Center for AIDS Prevention and Treatment, said in a new report yesterday that at least 500,000 Russians have HIV and that as many as 1.5 million of the country's 147 million people may be infected.

Pokrovsky cited foreign experts' estimates that 7 million Russians, or 1 in 25, could have HIV within five years.  He said official HIV rates in some major Russian cities are already over 1 percent and that, with many cases going unreported, the actual rates could be higher.

International HIV/AIDS experts have said the spread of HIV in Russia could be getting out of control, with potentially devastating consequences for the Russian population and work force.  U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed concern about HIV/AIDS in Russia while in Moscow May 15, and U.N. experts have said Russia will face disaster if HIV spreads from intravenous drug users, the group most likely to get HIV in Russia, to the general population.

  


The Russian Health Ministry said in November that new infections dropped by half in 2002 compared with 2001, mainly because of a scarcity of heroin due to war in Afghanistan, but Pokrovsky said yesterday that new HIV infections among drug users have decreased only because HIV is beginning to saturate the addict population.  He said sexual HIV transmission is on the rise, with 12 percent of infections last year attributed to sex.

One-third of new HIV infections last year in Russia occurred in women, compared with one-fourth the previous year, while the number of babies born to HIV-infected mothers in the country at least doubled over the same period.  Up to 8 percent of 15- to 25-year-old Russians have HIV in some provinces, including Samara and Irkutsk, Pokrovsky said.

  


Russia has budgeted about $38 million this year for the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the World Bank is lending Moscow another $150 million to support the effort (Michael Wines, New York Times, May 22).

 

 

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