Three Newspapers Examine Russia’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Three newspapers on Sunday reported on the epidemic HIV/AIDS in Russia. A summary of the articles appears below:
- New York Times, "Alarming Portents on Frontier of Russia's AIDS Crisis": Although HIV has spread "almost entirely" through injection drug use in Russia, the nation has experienced a "sharp increase" in HIV infections contracted through sexual contact, the New York Times reports. The Times highlights the Kaliningrad region, an isolated area of Russia "plagued by social and economic ills." The area, the first "hit hard" by HIV cases among injection drug users, has become a "harbinger of the disease's spread." Last year, 30% of new HIV infections in Kaliningrad were contracted through sexual contact, while only 4% of new infections were contracted through sexual contact in 1996. Russian health officials attribute the increase to prostitution but have raised concerns that the disease will begin to spread "beyond the shadowy world of drugs and criminality" as men who contract HIV from prostitutes spread the virus to other sexual partners (Myers, New York Times, 7/21).
- Chicago Tribune, "HIV Numbers Creep Up in Slumbering Russia": "Nowhere in the world is HIV spreading faster" than in the former Soviet Union, and some AIDS experts fear that Russia could "react far too slowly to a health crisis that threatens to explode," the Chicago Tribune reports. According to AIDS experts, the "reluctance" of the Russian government to address the rising HIV infection rate represents a "glaring underestimation of how severe the crisis could become." Russian AIDS officials have said that Russia must spend as much as $65 million "immediately" to reduce the spread of HIV and to treat the "thousands of infected people" who will begin to develop symptoms of AIDS. This year, however, the Russian government has only budgeted $5.1 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, the Tribune reports (Rodriguez, Chicago Tribune, 7/21).
- Boston Globe, "Russia Struggles to Treat AIDS Patients": A "dire" lack of funds has affected the treatment of about 4,700 HIV-positive patients in Kaliningrad, where the AIDS ward in the area's Hospital for Infectious Diseases has become a "crumbling facility," the Boston Globe reports. Russia's "lagging economy and rundown health system have made it impossible to adequately" fund HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs in the nation, the Globe reports. According to a recent Center for Strategic & International Studies report, Russia spends $45 annually per reported HIV case, compared to $10,000 to $15,000 in the United States. The standard treatment for HIV/AIDS costs about $800 per month in Russia, the Globe reports (Filipov, Boston Globe, 7/21).