HIV rate going up in Russia – watchdog

HIV Infection Microscopic Photo of Cells

MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) – The HIV rate is on the rise in Russia, according to a sanitary watchdog, which describes it as an “epidemic.”

Between January and September this year more than 54,000 new HIV cases were registered, which was 7.1% up on the same period of 2012, the acting head of the Federal Surveillance Service for Consumer Rights and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor), Anna Popova, said in a letter posted on the watchdog’s website on Friday.

“There were 361.6 HIV carriers per 100,000 of the population,” she said. “In the age group of 15 to 49 years HIV carriers accounted for 0.88%.”

The regions of Kemerovo, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Samara, Irkutsk, Tyumen and Omsk, the territory of Perm, and the Khanty-Mansi autonomous district are the parts of Russia worst hit by the virus.

“Intravenous injection of narcotics remains the main cause of HIV contraction in the country, accounting for 57.9% of all new infection cases, while heterosexual contacts account for 40.3%,” Popova said.

More than 281,500 of Russia’s HIV carriers or 36.6% are women.

“The epidemic spreads from vulnerable population groups into the general population at an accelerating pace. Socially adapted people of employable age are drawn into the epidemic,” Popova said.

She proposed that Russia mark World AIDS Day on December 1 by a set of preventive measures.

Last year, former Rospotrebnadzor chief Gennady Onishchenko said AIDS had claimed 109,000 lives in Russia throughout the period HIV and AIDS statistics had been recorded in the country.