Annan Calls on Russians to Combat AIDS, Child Homelessness
Speaking to a gathering of representatives from Russian not-for-profit organizations, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called on all Russians to work to overcome the dual problems of HIV/AIDS and child homelessness, Agence France-Presse reports. Child homelessness has become an increasing problem since Russia's economy and welfare system collapsed in the 1990s, leading many parents to abandon their children when they can no longer care for them. According to Oleg Zykov, director of the nongovernmental organization No to Alcohol and Drugs, Russia's HIV/AIDS epidemic is likely to be exacerbated by the homelessness among the nation's children because such children often "seek refuge" in drug use. Russia has one of the fastest growing AIDS epidemics, and experts estimate that up to 95% of new HIV cases in the country are attributable to injection drug use. So far, officials have recorded 182,000 HIV cases, but the actual number of cases is thought to be closer to 1.8 million. Sergei Dubrovsky of the Association Against AIDS added that it is "sometimes difficult to interest the business community in problems relating to AIDS, which is still a taboo subject in Russia" (Agence France-Presse, 6/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.