MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. There are currently about 1.7 mln people with the HIV infection in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with 85% of them located in Russia, Special Advisor to the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Michel Kazatchkine said in an interview with TASS.
In response to a question about progress in fighting the spread of HIV in the region, the UNAIDS special advisor noted that the disease will remain with the humankind for years. "Yet there is hope, and it increases every year that approximately by 2030 - earlier in some countries, later in others, - we will achieve the situation when the epidemic will cease to be a threat to public health," he added.
"Yet in Eastern Europe and Central Asia the pandemic of HIV, AIDS, and tuberculosis since they act jointly remains a serious threat to public health. Together with the Middle East this is the only region where the epidemic still continues to grow and this increase remains the most rapid worldwide. According to the estimates of the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS), there are currently 1.7 mln people with the HIV infection and 170,000 new infections a year in the region," the expert said.
According to him, 85% of them are in Russia. "In other countries there is practically no growth in the number of the infected, there is a certain stability, even a very small decrease but in the Russian Federation the growth continues although the rate of growth has decreased in the recent years which is a rather good sign," the UNAIDS representative added.
A global decrease
The UNAIDS special advisor noted that globally over the past 10-15 years the number of new cases of the infection and deaths caused by HIV has decreased approximately by 40%. He pointed out that in Eastern Europe and Central Asia the death rate of this infection is stable.
"Here tuberculosis and HIV act together because the number one cause of death of people with the HIV infection is tuberculosis. And in general this is a region with a high threat of tuberculosis. Although the number of new cases of tuberculosis has decreased significantly both in the Russian Federation and in the entire region, at the same time, the number or the share of resistant forms of tuberculosis is growing. They are very difficult to treat and the lethality is high. And the people with the HIV infection, mainly from the susceptible groups, for example, drug users, usually have precisely the resistant form of tuberculosis," the expert noted.
According to him, about 15% of new tuberculosis cases in the region are detected among those with the HIV infection "while this figure was about 7-8% ten years ago."
December 1 is the World AIDS day. It was established in 1988 in accordance with decisions of the World Health Organization and the UN General Assembly. Every year on this day various events are held worldwide aimed at raising awareness of AIDS and HIV.