HIV/AIDS: Russia bucks world trends
As 2009 comes to an end Russia is expecting that the count of new cases of HIV will amount to around 60.000, which is approximately 5,000 greater than in 2008 and 11,000 greater than a year earlier.
These figures were announced on the eve of World AIDS Day by Vadim Pokrovsky, the director of the applied science centre for the prevention of and action against AIDS at the ministry of health of the Russian Federation. This runs counter to the statistics showing a decline in the number of new cases globally (from 1,000,000 in 2008 to 900,000 in 2009) recently made public by the UN. Russia and Ukraine stand out from the other countries as having the fastest rates of growth in the number of HIV infected people.
Pokrovsky thinks that the basic reason for the lack of success in combating the epidemic in Russia lies in the lack of a proper administrative command structure for organising the process. He noted that the intergovernmental working group for combating the epidemic had met only once in 2009 although the problems are ongoing. ‘It is essential to have an organisation that works continuously and to act decisively just like the military’, he stated. He also expressed dissatisfaction with organisations whose job it is to prevent the spread of HIV. The expert contrasted the dissemination of information about AIDS with the explosion in publicity about swine flu and concluded that the latter ‘commonplace’ illness that lasts seven days worried people more than HIV which lasts a lifetime.
He recommended that thirty times the resources currently assigned to prevention were needed, that not only the mass media but also the new technologies of electronic communication be used for disseminating information about HIV/AIDS, and also that a network of AIDS centres situated in every region should take the lead in fighting the epidemic.