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.
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.
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).