AIDS spreading by leaps and bounds in Russia – AIDS center chief

HIV Infection Microscopic Photo of Cells

MOSCOW. Nov 28 (Interfax) – AIDS is spreading in Russia at a fast and accelerating pace, with more than 60,000 cases registered this year and about 70,000 people expected to pick the virus in 2013, the head of the national IDS center said on Wednesday.

“About 20,000 have died (of AIDS) this year, and this is not the definitive number either – the final statistics will be released early next year,” Pokrovsky told reporters.

Every day, up to 200 new AIDS cases are recorded in Russia, and the number of HIV carriers has nearly doubled over the last five years “from 370,000 to 702,000 today, even to nearly 703,000,” he said. “A minimum of 125,000 of those HIV carriers have died. Treatment is far from always effective, and far from always comes before too late.”

According to the United Nations, 1% of Russia’s adult population are infected with AIDS, which puts Russia and Ukraine in second place after Africa. “For comparison’s sake, in Western Europe it’s no more than 0.3% and in the United States 0.6% of the population, though America is considered to be the epicenter. In Africa it’s up to 1.5%,” Pokrovsky said.

He argued that the Russian government’s AIDS prevention activities are poorly coordinated. “Of course, there is a process of interaction underway, but there should be the coordinator of a higher rank for this work, because it’s a job where Gosnarkokontrol (Federal Drug Control Service) and the Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry are involved,” he said.

“I have been fighting HIV for 25 years and the situation is getting worse and worse. Everyone was laughing at me at that time – we kept looking for an HIV patient for two years and only found one in ’87. And, as you can see, the number of those infected has increased from one to 703,000,” Pokrovsky said.