Changes in spread of HIV in Russia

Why HIV is affecting older people and how risk groups have changed: epidemiological data from Rospotrebnadzor
In 2018, 70% of people newly infected with HIV in Russia were economically active and aged between 30 and 50.
A report entitled ‘On HIV in Russia and its prevention in the workplace’, drawn up by the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, Rospotrebnadzor, indicates that the number of regions with rampant HIV has increased by more than 40% over the past three years. Rospotrebnadzor has passed the report to the commission for the regulation of social and labour relations, RBC reports.
Highly affected regions
In small towns such as Tolyatti, Severouralsk, Orsk or Berezniki, the number of people with HIV has grown, with figures at 2-4 times the Russian average. In 2018, 87,700 people contracted HIV in the Russian Federation and the number of those living with the infection exceeded a million. Last year, the regions with the highest prevalence of HIV were Irkutsk (where 1.8% of the population is infected), Sverdlovsk and Kemerovo. In 2015, Irkutsk and Samara showed the highest figures.
Shifting risk groups
Rospotrebnadzor also notes that infection among people who do not belong to ‘high risk’ groups (which include gays, drug users and sex workers) is now more common. In 2018, 54.8% contracted the disease through heterosexual contact – an increase on 53.5% in 2017, and 48.7% in 2016.
‘Infection is occurring mainly among heterosexuals,’ Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Department for AIDS Prevention and Control at the Rospotrebnadzor Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, has been quoted as saying. ‘People are not using condoms – their sales are falling. As I see it, this is because their cost is high, and consumer purchasing power is falling. Equally, people do not understand that they can be directly affected. What’s more, the authorities are reporting that, in Russia, HIV has been brought under control.’ 

HIV and older age-groups
In 2018, economically active people aged 30-50 accounted for 70% of new HIV cases. People approaching retirement and pensioners also became more likely to be infected. Rospotrebnadzor comments that ‘people aged 50 and over take all kinds of risks, often alongside the young’. Academician Pokrovsky believes that the ‘ageing’ of those infected is an unremarkable development: in the 1990s and 2000s, those who contracted HIV were mainly young drugs-users. Today, the situation has changed.
The Ministry of Health told RBC that 20 regions, out of 85, account for 70% of new HIV cases. ‘We work with each region individually, focusing on the specific epidemiological situation. Every region has planned and actively implemented measures to tackle HIV, which have been approved by the head of each region,” the Ministry is reported to have said.

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