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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 30, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 48
HIV infections on rise in Russia
Section One
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HIV infections on rise in Russia

Gay men account for few new cases

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Russian health officials are reporting a huge jump in HIV infections in the first 10 months of 2012.

Some 200 Russians now contract HIV every day - a 12.5% rate of new infections, Vadim Pokrovsky, director of Russia's Federal Center for Prevention and Control of AIDS, said November 28.

Speaking to Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, he warned that unless immediate preventative actions were taken, the number of cases could double every five years.

'Russia has 617,018 HIV-positive residents. A total of 62,865 people were tested HIV-positive in the first 10 months of 2012, which is 12.5% more than last year. HIV cases were reported from all constituents of the Russian Federation,' Russian Chief Sanitary Inspector Gennady Onishchenko confirmed in a letter to regional public health departments.

A breakdown of the new infection figures shows the interconnection of HIV with another of Russia's ongoing health problems - heroin addiction. Of the new HIV cases recorded this year, 59.4% were determined to have been caused by contaminated needles shared by addicts.

Russia has one of the worst heroin addiction problems in the world, both because of its proximity to central Asian smuggling routes, and the lack of effective anti-drug action.

A FALSE STEREOTYPE
In spite of rampant anti-Gay prejudice in Russia, fewer than 1% of new HIV cases were reportedly caused by sexual contact among men, while 38.9% were caused by sex between men and women.

The data released by Pokrovsky's group shows that in the first 10 months of 2012, a total of 4,398 children were infected with HIV by their mothers. Five hundred twenty-nine of them died.

In contrast, the world rate of new infections in adults has stayed broadly stable for the past four years, according to UNAIDS.

In a report issued by UNAIDS last week, executive director Michel Sidibe said Russia is one of a number of countries still failing to use the right strategies to combat the virus.

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