Staunton, October 7 – Mortality rates from HIV infections have declined everywhere in the world except in Russia, Academician Vadim Pokrovsky says. There, he continues, they have gone up in large measure because about a third are not diagnosed until they have developed full-blown AIDS and because another third are not given treatments regularly used in other countries.
The head of the Federal Center for Prevention and Combatting HIV says that official statistics give the impression that there has been a reduction in the rate of HIV/AIDS cases in Russia, in fact, the number of new cases has continued to rise from 98,000 in 2015 to what is likely to be more than 104,000 by the end of this year (doctorpiter.ru/articles/17974/).
As a result, the total number of those registered as being HIV infected has doubled over the last five years and now stands at 1,167,000, just under one percent of the total Russian population. If those as yet unregistered are included, the number and share suffering from this disease almost certainly is much higher.
According to Rosstat, Pokrovsky says, HIV infections now are responsible for more than half of the roughly 35,000 deaths in Russia from all infectious diseases. And these Russian HIV deaths “exceed the number of deaths from highway accidents and suicides.” To date, in Russia, 260,000 people, most in their 30s or 40s, have died from HIV/AIDS.
When the epidemic began, men dominated those infected because they were more likely to use drugs. Then when it began to spread through sexual contact, the number of Russian women infected increased. “Now,” the academician says, “the number of men has begun to grow again.”
“Some consider that this is connected with the use of new drugs,” while others believe that “there has been an increase in the spread of the virus among men who have sex with other men.” According to official statistics, however, “only about 1.5 percent of cases are explainable by homosexual contacts.”
A major reason why this figure is so low, Pokrovsky says, is that if someone is both a drug user and a homosexual, doctors almost always will list drugs as the source of infection rather than homosexual contacts. That leads to a serious overstatement of the role of drug use in the spread of HIV in Russia.
There has also been a change in the distribution of cases by age groups. Initially, young people were the most often identified. Now, older people in their 30s or even in their 60s are far more common.