AIDS Spreading Rapidly in Russia
June 12, 2003
HIV/AIDS arrived late in Russia -- by the end of 1998 there were only 11,000 cases registered -- but the country now has one of the fastest-growing AIDS epidemics in the world. In just four years, official HIV figures have skyrocketed almost 22 times higher to 700,000 cases or more in a population of roughly 145 million people.Adapted from:
Though relatively few Russians with HIV have died so far, a World Bank study last year estimated that 500 to 760 people could be succumbing monthly two years from now. "We expect the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. This is inevitable," said report co-author Vadim Pokrovsky, Russia's top AIDS doctor.
Once confined almost exclusively to drug addicts, HIV is increasingly spread through sex. In Kaliningrad, the capital of Russia's westernmost region, three out of four people registered with HIV got it from infected needles, officials said. But almost half the new cases last year were linked to sexual transmission, the Kaliningrad AIDS center said.
The country is facing a rapid rise in mother-to-child HIV transmission. In almost 20 percent of births to HIV-infected mothers, the virus was passed on the infants, according to Russia's AIDS center.
Alarmed experts and officials are worried about the potentially destabilizing effect HIV/AIDS could have on Russia, not just as a humanitarian concern but also a potential peril for the rest of the world. "Security is not only a fight against proliferation of nuclear weapons, not only nuclear deterrence, not only a fight against al-Qaida. Security is also a fight against such diseases as AIDS," said Mikhail Margelov, a key Russian legislator and co-chair of a U.S.-Russian citizens' committee on the disease.
Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.)
06.08.03; Liam Pleven
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.