Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Russian AIDS Epidemic Has ‘Blind-Sided’ Health Officials, Newsweek Reports
Russian health officials have been "blind-sided" by a surge of HIV cases that has hit the nation like a "tidal wave,"
Newsweek reports. From January 2000 through July 31, 2001, Russia officially recorded 129,261 new cases of HIV, with 63,000 of those cases coming in the first five months of this year. With its citizens seven times more likely to contract the virus than other Europeans, Russia now has the highest HIV infection rate on the continent. An "influx" of heroin, a "surge" in drug-related prostitution and the overall Russian tendency to eschew contraception have helped the disease spread so rapidly, Newsweek reports. "This is a catastrophe. Within the space of two years, Russia has gone from the bottom of the list to No. 1," Dr. Alex Gromyko, an HIV adviser to the World Health Organization, said. Russian officials in April turned down a $150 million World Bank loan designated for tuberculosis and AIDS treatment, saying they were "not satisfied" with the conditions of the loan. The government, which has opened AIDS awareness centers in all of the country's 89 regions, this year plans to spend $5 million on anti-AIDS efforts. However, that amount is a "pittance" compared to the amount of money the United States and other European nations spend on controlling the disease, Newsweek reports. Many Russian hospitals now have AIDS wings, but most lack the drugs needed to treat the disease, and only about 500 people are currently receiving "effective treatment," according to Gromyko (Conant, Newsweek, 9/17).
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