Ahead of G-8, Moscow Raises Profile of AIDS Epidemic as Experts Eye Regional Solution
July 12, 2006
Russia, the host nation of this week's G-8 meeting, has been paying more attention to its AIDS epidemic after a long period of official silence. Experts say the St. Petersburg G-8 meeting, which China and India will also attend, presents a prime opportunity to discuss regional solutions to HIV/AIDS epidemics, which have spread from the higher-risk IV drug using and sex worker populations to the general population in all three countries.
The first grants to Russia from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria served to spread societal awareness of HIV/AIDS and also caught the attention of officials. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a high-level council meeting on AIDS, at which he solicited viewpoints. Experts noted that not all views expressed were progressive, but that dialogue was an important step. Advocacy groups and experts also noted when Putin said that the number of people with HIV/AIDS was "considerably higher" than the 342,000 officially registered number of Russian cases, and he urged improved surveillance.
After that meeting, "we knew there would be a spine to an actual political process" for handling AIDS, said Bertil Lindblad, UNAIDS representative for Russia.
Experts note that Russia, China, and India all need less help from the G-8 than that promised at the summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, where funding to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, mostly in Africa, was a major topic. At that summit, G-8 leaders made AIDS pledges that were not met, Prime Minister Tony Blair recently acknowledged.
Of those needing antiretroviral treatment, only 25 percent are receiving it in China, 7 percent in India, and 5 percent in Russia, according to the World Health Organization and UNAIDS.
07.12.06; Paul Burkhardt
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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.