Intended for healthcare professionals


AIDS in Russia—glasnost arrives at last

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 18 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1176
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. Moscow

    This week, Moscow played host to the first ever regional conference on HIV/AIDS to be held in Eastern Europe. The event marks a turning point in a country that has been reluctant to admit the disease is a problem. Zosia Kmietowicz looks at efforts to prevent a pandemic

    In less than a year, the problem of HIV/AIDS in Russia has gone from near obscurity to the top of the political agenda. This is because the infection has spread from a group dominated by injecting drugs users into the general population, and the government fears a pandemic and economic collapse if minimal action continues.

    Russia has 342 000 officially registered cases of HIV/AIDS out of a population of 145 million. But experts believe the true number infected is probably closer to one million.

    Dr Luba Potemina, head physician at the AIDS centre in the southern city of Saratov, said, “Before 2001 most people with HIV [that we were seeing] were young men, which was very similar to the rest of Russia, where 98% of infections were among this group. Since injecting drug users are often characterised by a low level of responsibility this is where we started to see women become infected. Currently, sexual transmission accounts for 63% of all new cases.”

    The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia peaked in 2001, with 88 000 new diagnoses nationally, which …

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