Generation Afflicted; HIV Spreads Quickly in Russia, Particularly Among the Young
August 6, 2003
Since the start of 2000, the number of registered HIV cases in Togliatti, an industrial Russian town about 600 miles southeast of Moscow, has risen from 16 to 8,300, most cases in young people. Local statistics mirror a national trend: more than 80 percent of HIV-positive Russians were diagnosed between ages 15 and 29, more than twice the proportion in western Europe and the United States.Adapted from:
Russia's AIDS epidemic is one of the fastest growing in the world. A World Bank study predicted that HIV/AIDS could shave half a percentage point off any economic growth annually by 2010. Half a percent of Russians ages 15-29 are infected.
A wave of drug abuse among young Russians following the collapse of the Soviet Union is spreading the virus. November 1999 was the first time Togliatti city officials recorded more than one HIV infection in a single month. As the epidemic spread, the city started a needle exchange program and hired outreach workers to travel the city distributing clean syringes to addicts and condoms to prostitutes. A 2001 study led by Togliatti officials and University of London researchers concluded that 56 percent of the city's intravenous drug users were HIV-positive, and that about three-fourths of IDUs did not know they were infected.
Heroin is the drug of choice in Togliatti, but homemade concoctions like "vint" (an ephedrine derivative that increases sexual appetites and can cause hallucinations) and "hanka" (made from opium and sometimes cut with ground-up bricks) are also popular.
Although HIV/AIDS runs rampant in Russian youth, president Vladimir Putin made only a passing reference to it in his state-of-the-nation address this year. In a recent three-hour news conference, Putin fielded roughly four dozen questions, none of them focused on HIV.
Newsday (New York)
08.04.03; 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.