Commentary & Opinion
Russian Government Needs Immediate, Accelerated Response to HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Opinion Piece Says
August 24, 2004
The Russian government needs an "immediate, accelerated and significantly scaled-up response" to the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic or it "risks undermining, and even reversing, Russia's prospects for economic growth and human development," Cristina Galvin and Dr. Murray Feshback of the USAID Research Project HIV/AIDS Russia/Ukraine write in an Irish Times opinion piece (Galvin/Feshback, Irish Times, 8/23). Russia has one of the world's fastest-growing HIV prevalence rates; the World Bank estimates that the number of HIV cases could reach between 5.4 million and 14.5 million by 2020. However, official response to HIV/AIDS has been virtually nonexistent, as politicians are reluctant to associate themselves with the disease, which remains stigmatized by its association with drug users and prostitutes. Russia has officially registered about 282,000 HIV cases since June -- nearly 25% of the estimated total -- and only three federal-level staff members manage a $4 million HIV/AIDS budget. Currently, about 1,800 Russians receive AIDS treatment at a cost of $7,000 to $12,000 per patient annually, but officials estimate that 7,000 more people will be treated next year using a $240 million, five-year grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as loans and grants from the World Bank, the United States and other Western donors. However, the World Health Organization estimates that 71,000 Russians will need treatment by 2005 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/16).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.