More On Russia’s AIDS Crisis

The Los Angeles Times on Sunday examined the HIV/AIDS epidemic among young people in Russia and its contribution to the country’s population decline. Russia has more HIV-positive people than any other European country, in part because of “extraordinarily large numbers of young people who inject drugs,” according to the United Nations (Murphy, Los Angeles Times, 10/8). The number of HIV cases in Russia has nearly doubled in the past five years, from 121 per 100,000 people in 2001 to 231 per 100,000 by the end of 2005, according to the Federal Service for the Supervision of Consumer Rights and Human Welfare (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/31). More than half of new HIV cases are a result of heterosexual intercourse, and HIV prevalence among young people in Russia “threatens to add to the population decline by killing them before they can bring a new generation into the world,” the Times reports. According to Murray Feshbach of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, more than 80% of people living with AIDS in Russia are under age 30, compared with the U.S. and Western Europe, where 70% of people living with AIDS are older than age 30. “Even optimistically, you’re looking at 250,000 deaths a year from AIDS alone in 2020, and pessimistically, we’re talking about 650,000 a year,” Feshbach said. To combat the epidemic, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a twentyfold increase in funding this year, which will provide $120 million for HIV/AIDS treatment (Los Angeles Times, 10/8). In addition, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has pledged about $209 million over five years to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment in Russia, and the country is in negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to decrease the price of drugs purchased in bulk with the Global Fund grant (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/21).

SOURCE: KAISER NETWORK

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