Russia’s HIV Epidemic

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“Getting tested for HIV is easy! Find out your HIV status. Get peace of mind for yourself and loved ones.” Photo by the Russian Reader

The other day I saw this public service poster, promoting HIV awareness and encouraging commuters to get tested for HIV, on a train I was taking to the outskirts of the city. I was more than mildly surprised to see it, because AIDS and HIV had been semi-taboo subjects in Russia for a long while, despite the fact that both experts and public health officials had been acknowledging for the same long while that the country had huge numbers of HIV-infected people and those numbers were growing.

It was thus slightly comforting to see the following item in the news the other day. I guess this is what counts for progress in this country, which has increasingly been governed as if it were slightly to the left of ISIS.

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Russia’s HIV Situation ‘Epidemic’ — Rospotrebnadzor
The Moscow Times
November 30, 2015

According to Rospotrebnadzor, about 50 percent of HIV-positive Russians contracted the disease by using needle-injected drugs.  Photo: LizM/Pixabay

Russia’s HIV infection rates have become epidemic, spreading to citizens beyond at risk groups, the head of Rospotrebnadzor’s epidemiology supervision department in St. Petersburg, Irina Chkhindzheriya said, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia’s HIV infection rates have become epidemic, spreading to citizens beyond at risk groups, the head of Rospotrebnadzor’s epidemiology supervision department in St. Petersburg, Irina Chkhindzheriya said, the Interfax news agency reported.

“We have to admit that the country’s soaring HIV rates can be described as epidemic. About 1 percent of Russians are HIV-positive … The epidemic has broken through traditional limits and is spreading to the general population,” Chkhindzheriya said, Interfax reported Monday.

According to Rospotrebnadzor, about 50 percent of HIV-positive Russians contracted the disease by using needle-injected drugs, and 42 percent — through heterosexual contact.

About 1 percent of pregnant Russian women are infected with HIV, giving birth to more than 600 congenitally infected infants every year, the report said.

“Statistics show that approximately 50 people per 100,000 of the population are HIV-positive, and the situation becomes much worse in the regions,” Chkhindzheriya said, Interfax reported.

At the start of the month, the total number of registered HIV-positive Russians numbered 986,657.

Editor’s Note.  The CIA World Factbook estimated the population of Russia as 142,423,773 in July 2015. 

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