Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

International News
HIV Spreading Like Wildfire Among Young in Former Soviet States

November 24, 2004

In two years, Eastern Europe and Central Asia have experienced a 40 percent jump in HIV/AIDS cases, mostly among the young, UNAIDS and World Health Organization reported Tuesday ahead of World AIDS Day. By the end of this year, the former Soviet Union will have 1.4 million HIV/AIDS infections, up from 1 million in 2002. Four out of every five infections there occurred among those under age 30, compared to Western Europe, where less than one in three infected are under 30, the UN's annual "AIDS Epidemic Update" stated.

"Most of the epidemics in this region are still in their early stages, which means that timely, effective intervention can halt and reverse them," said the report. It urged prevention efforts to focus on drug users, sex workers and pregnant HIV-positive women.

Some 70 percent of known HIV cases in the former Soviet Union are in Russia, fueled mostly by needle sharing among intravenous drug users. Unprotected sex could spread HIV more broadly, spilling out of the 10 most affected regions -- nine of which are in western Russia. In the Ukraine, around one-third of new infections are heterosexually acquired; four out of 10 infected are women, most under age 25. In Russia, 9,000 babies were recorded as HIV-positive in 2003. "In the absence of effective prevention efforts, serious HIV outbreaks could follow in the rest of the country," warned the report.

Prevention programs in some Ukrainian cities have successfully reduced maternal HIV transmission rates from 27 percent in 2001 to 12 percent last year. In the Baltic states, HIV prevalence remains low though transmission rates are high, similar to epidemics in the Central Asian and Caucasian republics, where the adult infection rate is less than 0.3 percent. Region-wide, the report noted routine stigma and discrimination against gays, among whom unprotected sex is commonplace.

Back to other news for November 24, 2004

Excerpted from:
Agence France Presse

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. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.