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MOSCOW, November 28 (Itar-Tass) — The number of HIV-infected people has nearly doubled in Russia over the past five years, and some 200 people get infected every day, the head of the Federal AIDS Centre, Academician Vadim Pokrovsky said.
“According to the forecast, 70,000 new cases will be registered this year by the end of 2012, compared to about 60,000 now,” Pokrovsky said at a press conference on Wednesday, November 28.
A total of 703,700 Russians infected with the immunodeficiency virus are registered at present. “Over the past five years their number has nearly doubled,” Pokrovsky said.
Since the start of registration, 125,000 have died.
According to Pokrovsky, the HIV incidence rate grows every year in Russia, while 25 countries have reported a decrease in the number of new cases, primarily in Western Europe. At the same time, the number of cases is growing in Eastern Europe, with 90 percent of new cases registered in Russia and Ukraine.
“HIV infection is making its way into socially advantaged sections of the population. This is the way developing countries follow. It’s like in Africa,” Pokrovsky said.
He noted that earlier people got infected mainly through the use of narcotics, while now this happens more and more often through sexual intercourse.
The academician believes that there are several reasons for the rise in infection, including a lack of funding allocated for prevention. “The USA and West European countries spend 3-4 U.S. dollars per person a year for AIDS prevention, while we send a mere 3 roubles, if converted,” he said.
HIV-infected people who have developed AIDS need treatment that costs much more than prevention, Pokrovsky said. “We treat 100,000 people and have to spend 150,000-180,000 roubles on medicines for one patient every year. This is quite a large amount,” he added.
As for the most vulnerable categories of the population, men at the age of 30-35 years get infected more often. “Some 2.5 percent of people in this category are infected,” the expert noted.
The most affected regions in Russia are Irkutsk region, where 1.5 percent of people have HIV, Samara region (1.3 percent), Sverdlovsk region (1.1 percent), and St. Petersburg (1 percent).
Replying to a question from ITAR-TASS, the academician said that foreigners coming to Russia account for only a small portion of all infected cases. “Over this whole period, 17,592 HIV-infected foreigners have been registered,” he said. “Foreigners have no significant impact on the overall picture,” he added.
Pokrovsky said that almost all countries have given up the practice of denying entry to HIV-infected people. “The ‘friend or foe system’ is not effective in this case,” he said.