HIV toll tops one million in Russia and keeps climbing

November 29, 2016

Russia's HIV infection rate is growing 10 percent a year and over one million Russian have been diagnosed with the disease in nearly three decades, the country's top AIDS expert said Tuesday.

The number of registered cases reached 1,087,339 on September 30, Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the national state AIDS centre, said at a news conference.

That number is a cumulative total of all those registered since 1987 and includes those who have since died.

According to the health ministry, around 820,000 Russians out of a population of 146 million are currently living with HIV.

In 2015, 110,000 new cases were officially registered in Russia, up from 85,252 new cases in 2014.

The real number of those infected is significantly higher—1.3 to 1.4 million or almost 1 percent of the population, Pokrovsky estimated.

A global AIDS study published in The Lancet HIV journal in July found that new infections have plateaued globally at around 2.5 million per year, with more than 75 percent of infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Europe, the highest rate of new infections was in Russia and Ukraine, the study found.

"The situation is just getting worse and today it is threatening national security," said Pokrovsky, warning of the risk of a huge epidemic breaking out by 2021.

Just over half of new cases in Russia—51 per cent—result from injecting drugs, while 47 percent are infected by unprotected straight sex and only 1.5 percent say they got infected from gay sex.

"Russia is the only country in the world where drug users represent more than 50% of people with HIV," said Pokrovsky.

He slammed the lack of an HIV prevention campaign, such as handing out clean needles.

"The public funds aren't even enough to treat all those who are HIV positive. I'm not even talking about the prevention of new ," he said.

Only one in three HIV positive people in Russia gets free medical treatment due to a lack of funding, while the medicines are often of low quality.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has backed conservative values that align with those of the powerful Russian Orthodox Church, meaning health services have focused on AIDS treatment rather than prevention.

Russia has also banned supplying with methadone as a substitute for heroin and has shifted its focus from information campaigns to those promoting abstinence.

The justice ministry blacklisted two major NGOs involved in HIV prevention in July under a controversial new law that labels them as "foreign agents."

Explore further: Russian activists struggle to raise HIV awareness as epidemic grows

Related Stories

Russian activists struggle to raise HIV awareness as epidemic grows

May 28, 2016
Vadim Pokrovsky stunned hundreds of students at a conference in Moscow last week when he reached into his pocket and took out a condom.

Russia has 'no anti-AIDS strategy', official says

May 16, 2013
There is no government strategy to fight the spread of AIDS in Russia, where the number of deaths caused by the disease continues to grow, a senior healthcare official said on Thursday.

Russia warns of two million HIV carriers in five years

May 14, 2015
Russia's AIDS epidemic is worsening and at least two million people are likely to be infected with HIV in about five years as the virus increasingly affects the heterosexual population, the country's top AIDS specialist said ...

Official: Fourth-largest city in Russia has HIV epidemic

November 2, 2016
Russian health officials say one in 50 people in the country's fourth-largest city is carrying the HIV virus as Russia struggles to deal with a rapidly rising number of infections.

One in seven with HIV in Europe unaware of infection: study

November 29, 2016
One in seven people with HIV in Europe is unaware of their infection, the EU and World Health Organization reported Tuesday as 2015 marked another record year for new HIV cases in the region.

HIV infections double in Russia, ex-Soviet states

November 27, 2014
HIV infections have doubled in ten years in Russia and former Soviet states, due mainly to unprotected sex and injecting drugs, a report said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Study suggests a way to stop HIV in its tracks

December 1, 2017
When HIV-1 infects an immune cell, the virus travels to the nucleus so quickly there's not enough time to set off the cell's alarm system.

Discovery puts the brakes on HIV's ability to infect

November 30, 2017
Viewed with a microscope, the virus faintly resembles a pineapple—the universal symbol of welcome. But HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is anything but that. It has claimed the lives of more than 35 million people so far.

Rising levels of HIV drug resistance

November 30, 2017
HIV drug resistance is approaching and exceeding 10% in people living with HIV who are about to initiate or reinitiate first-line antiretroviral therapy, according to the largest meta-analysis to date on HIV drug resistance, ...

Male circumcision and antiviral drugs appear to sharply reduce HIV infection rate

November 29, 2017
A steep drop in the local incidence of new HIV infections accompanied the rollout of a U.S.-funded anti-HIV program in a large East-African population, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ...

Combination HIV prevention reduces new infections by 42 percent in Ugandan district

November 29, 2017
A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine provides real-world evidence that implementing a combination of proven HIV prevention measures across communities can substantially reduce new HIV infections ...

Research on HIV viral load urges updates to WHO therapy guidelines

November 24, 2017
A large cohort study in South Africa has revealed that that low-level viraemia (LLV) in HIV-positive patients who are receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) is an important risk factor for treatment failure.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.