Russian AIDS Official Says Country’s AIDS Epidemic Could be Graver Than Situation in Africa
Russia's AIDS epidemic may have consequences "even more catastrophic" than those in Africa, according to Vadim Pokrovsky, head of Russia's official AIDS center, Reuters/New York Post reports. Of Russia's 180,000 reported HIV infections, 100,000 occurred last year. Experts estimate that the actual number of HIV infections in Russia could be as high as one million, more than 1% of adults (Reuters/New York Post, 2/11). Although Russia's HIV cases occur mainly among intravenous drug users and have not spread widely to the general public, Pokrovsky said that the country's high rates of sexually transmitted diseases show that many Russians are engaging in risky sexual behavior. Pokrovsky stated that Russia's AIDS epidemic could be even more disastrous in terms of economic impact than Africa's epidemic because Russia has lower birth rates and is thus less likely to replace the people lost to AIDS-related causes. "In Russia, AIDS is scarier than in Africa. There the population is replaced. In Russia it will not be," he said. Pokrovsky said that the public is largely unaware of the devastation that a widespread AIDS epidemic could have in Russia. "People do not see this danger. Maybe it is because for so many years we warned them 'AIDS is coming. AIDS is coming.' And it never came. We expected it sooner. It came later. And now people still think we're just making noise," he said (Graff, Reuters, 2/10).
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