Russia’s Economy Could ‘Suffer’ Due to AIDS Epidemic, World Bank Analysts Say
Russia's economy could be adversely affected in the next 20 years by the rapid spread of HIV infection in the country, World Bank analysts said yesterday, the Associated Press reports. Based on current HIV infection rates in the country, World Bank analysts and the Russia Federal AIDS Center estimate that the country's economy will shrink by 10.5% by 2020 "if no preventive measures are taken," as the number of available workers is expected to decline and the cost of treating HIV patients is expected to rise. The number of HIV-positive Russians could reach 5.4 million by 2020, and 21,000 Russians could die from AIDS-related causes each month under "optimistic projections" if preventive measures are not taken, Christof Ruehl, senior economist with the World Bank's Russia office, said. As of yesterday, 194,000 officially registered HIV cases had been reported in the country, up from 177,000 in December, Vadim Pokorovsky, head of the Russian AIDS center, said, adding that the number was likely "much larger," as only 10% to 15% of the country's population has been tested (Associated Press, 5/15). The World Bank also noted that the prospects for the country are "especially worrying" because Russia has a declining population compared to other heavily infected regions such as Southern Africa. "The impact of HIV will therefore not be counterbalanced by positive population growth, worsening the adverse impact negative population growth has on the economy, the social security systems ... and the maintenance of stable public service provision," according to the World Bank (Dow Jones International News, 5/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.