Leavitt Says Stronger Efforts Needed To Fight HIV/AIDS in Russia, Pledges $3M for Seven ProgramsHHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on Tuesday said that although Russian authorities have made progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, stronger efforts are needed to curb its spread, the AAP/Age reports. "There is an acknowledgment that there is much work to be done, that the awareness of AIDS and its seriousness hasn't fully ripened among the Russian people," Leavitt, who is traveling in the region, said, adding, "We think the Russian government has made advances in its fight against HIV, ... but much more remains to be done" (AAP/Age, 6/15). Leavitt on Tuesday also announced that the United States plans to commit $3 million to launch seven programs to fight HIV/AIDS in Russia, Russia's MosNews reports. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Leavitt said, "We think that Russian authorities are making progress in fighting AIDS and so have the private sector and the social organizations. But there is much work to be done yet, and we could work together here." He added that the two countries also might cooperate on developing biotechnology and fighting hepatitis and tuberculosis (MosNews, 6/14). HIV/AIDS experts say more than one million HIV-positive people live in Russia and as many as one million Russians could die of AIDS-related causes by 2008 (Associated Press, 6/14).
Leavitt traveled to Moscow from Ukraine, where he pledged U.S. support to fight that country's HIV/AIDS epidemic (Associated Press, 6/11). On Saturday, Leavitt, Ukrainian first lady Kateryna Yushchenko and Ukrainian Health Secretary Mykola Polishchuk visited a clinic that treats HIV-positive children. Leavitt said it is important that Ukraine destigmatize the disease (Bellaby, Associated Press, 6/13). In the first four months of 2005, Ukraine recorded 794 new HIV cases among children, and as many as 500,000 people in the country are estimated to be HIV-positive (Associated Press, 6/11).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of a Center for Strategic and International Studies HIV/AIDS Task Force session discussing a report outlining ways Russia and the United States can cooperate in the global battle against HIV/AIDS is available online.