Economist Profiles HIV/AIDS Fight in Russia, Ukraine
The Economist in its July 10 issue explores the "troubled fight" against HIV/AIDS in Russia, where there are "no agreed policies" for HIV testing and treatment and "no clear picture of how AIDS is evolving." Officially, there are 238,000 registered HIV cases in Russia; however, there could be an estimated one million people living with HIV in the country. With many Russians unaware of their HIV status, "nobody can say how far AIDS has spread into the population as whole," according to the Economist. Russia has received a five-year, $120 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. However, some experts say that the grant is "misdirected" at injection drug users -- who account for 80% of the HIV-positive population in Russia -- because they often do not follow the antiretroviral drug regimen, according to the Economist. Unless the government is able to overcome these obstacles, the Global Fund grant money "could go down a black hole" (Economist , 7/10).
Although HIV/AIDS is "being overlooked" in Russia, Ukraine is "taking the threat seriously," the Economist reports. Out of 2,000 HIV-positive people in Ukraine who need antiretroviral treatment, 137 HIV-positive people currently are taking it, according to the Economist. However, the number of people targeted to receive treatment is "several times higher that originally planned" because of lobbying from Ukrainian HIV/AIDS advocates. In addition, Ukraine received a grant from the Global Fund "before Russia could even get its act together to apply" for a grant, the Economist reports. Although the grant was temporarily suspended because the agencies managing it "took too long to get going," the International HIV/AIDS Alliance has taken over and "things have improved," Economist reports (Economist , 7/10).