Russia: Moscow Hosts Key AIDS Conference
May 15, 2006
Today at the first European and Central Asian AIDS conference in Moscow, hundreds of activists, officials, and health workers hope to address what is one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world.
According to the UN, the number of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia reached approximately 1.6 million at the end of last year, a tenfold increase in less than a decade. Persons under age 30 account for 75 percent of those cases, the majority of which are in Russia and Ukraine.
UNAIDS chief Peter Piot said the virus' rapid spread in the area was initially linked to injecting drug users. "Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the history of AIDS. We always think of Africa, which of course has the heaviest toll in terms of AIDS, but it's here in this region, in all the republics -- all the former Soviet republics -- that we see this," said Piot. "It's driven by injecting drug use in the first place but now, increasingly, also transmission through heterosexual transmissions is occurring."
While calling the conference "long overdue," Piot praised Vladimir Putin's recent announcement that the government would increase AIDS spending this year to more than $100 million.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.