Russian HIV-Positive Infants Being Abandoned by Drug-Using Mothers, Detroit Free Press Reports
The number of HIV-positive infants abandoned in Russian hospitals is increasing as the AIDS epidemic moves through the country, the Detroit Free Press reports. "HIV babies" are part of the "tragedy of the country's growing drug problem, which has helped fuel the spread of HIV, largely from the use of dirty hypodermic needles." Russia, which documented its first HIV case in 1987, has 86,259 cases of HIV nationwide, with some cities, such as Irkutsk, each harboring more than 10% of the cases. The HIV rate in Russia has at least doubled every year since 1996. An Irkutsk hospital opened an infants' ward in 1999 "with the realization that newborns were fast becoming the latest victims of Russia's HIV crisis," program overseer Dr. Alexandra Denyak explained. With the epidemic continuing to spread, health officials fear that the number of abandoned infants born with HIV, already reaching into the hundreds, will continue to grow. "We treat them as ordinary children," Denyak said, adding, "We give them treatment. We give them the warmth of our hearts. We cannot give these children anything but kindness" (Montgomery, Detroit Free Press, 3/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.