U.S. Diplomats Meet to Fight HIV/AIDS in Former Soviet Bloc
February 4, 2003
Top U.S. diplomats from 14 former Eastern bloc countries began a two-day conference Monday in Kiev, Ukraine, to discuss efforts to reverse skyrocketing HIV/AIDS infection rates they said threaten to devastate the region's health, social, and economic systems. Ambassador Jack Chow, Special Representative of the U.S. Secretary of State for HIV/AIDS, opened the conference by calling on the region's diplomats to marshal their efforts and share their experience to fight a "viral wildfire burning on the human population."Adapted from:
Infection rates in the former Soviet republics have been doubling every year for the past three years, said U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. With more than 400,000 cases, Ukraine has one of the highest rates of infection in the region. The total could reach 1.4 million by 2010, Pascual said. Ukraine's population is about 49 million.
Pascual praised Ukraine for acknowledging its AIDS problem and hailed government efforts to reverse the trend, but warned that the disease has begun spreading beyond traditional high-risk groups. Some 19 percent of 15- to 29-year-olds are HIV-infected. The spread of infections across the social spectrum risks overwhelming health and social services and the cash-strapped government's national budget, Pascual said.
The United States considers HIV/AIDS a "global emergency" because it threatens "to erase decades of development work [and] billions of dollars of investment," causing population losses of "unprecedented scale," Chow said. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently awarded Ukraine the first grant in the region, worth $18.8 million over two years, according to a UN spokesperson.
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.