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International News

Rise of HIV in Russia Is Quickening, Official Says

May 22, 2003

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

At least a half-million Russians now are infected with HIV and the true number could range as high as 1.5 million, or more than 1 percent of the overall population, Russia's top government AIDS expert offered in a harrowing assessment of the disease's spread. More ominous yet, foreign experts now say that 1 in every 25 Russians could be infected in as few as five years, according to a report by Vadim V. Pokrovsky of the Russian Center for AIDS Prevention and Treatment.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell raised public concerns about the spread of AIDS in Russia during a May 15 visit to Moscow, and UN experts have repeatedly warned that the country could face a catastrophe should HIV begin to spread beyond the group most often infected, IV drug users, to the general population. Pokrovsky said that while reports of new infections among drug users have tapered off, that is only because HIV/AIDS has begun to saturate the population of addicts who share needles.

Pokrovsky said the rate of sexual HIV transmission is growing. "While in 2001 we knew exactly that 4 percent got the infection through sexual intercourse, in 2002 almost 12 percent got infected sexually," added Pokrovsky. As a result, a third of new HIV cases were recorded among women last year, up from a quarter in 2001, and the number of babies born to HIV-positive women at least doubled between 2001 and 2002.

An unfettered spread of AIDS poses unusually severe threats to Russia because of the country's skewed demographics. Russia's population is inexorably falling and the country will likely face a labor shortage in future decades due to already-high mortality rates among working-age men. This shortage should accelerate as young Russian men -- who predominantly comprise HIV cases -- drop out of the work force due to maturation into AIDS.

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Adapted from:
New York Times
05.22.03; Michael Wines

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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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.
 
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