More Russian adolescents contracting HIV
The Council on Guardianship in the Social Sphere: Increasing numbers of Russian adolescents contracting HIV
The Council met to discuss the HIV situation in Russia.
A fall in the HIV growth rate
According to Tatyana Golikova, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, the Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights believes HIV to be one of the most common infectious diseases, with cases recorded in every region. More than 1.1 million people were living with HIV in December 2020, 60% of whom were men. Oleg Gridnev, Deputy Head of the Federation’s Ministry of Health, stated that more than 90% of HIV-positive individuals in Russia are aware of their condition.
“From 2017-2019, the number of first-time diagnoses fell by nearly 7%. Since 2018 and for the first time in 14 years, there has been a fall in the rate of increase from 13.4% in 2012 to 2.2% in 2018 while the number of screenings has gone up. In 2020, there was a 4.3% decline
in the number of deaths compared to the previous year. The main cause of deaths is tuberculosis”, said Golikova.
At the end of 2020, Russia adopted a national strategy for counteracting the spread of HIV covering the period up until 2030. This includes plans to bring down HIV cases from 76,000 in 2020 to 45,000 by 2030, as well as reducing treatment costs and increasing the number of those having antiretroviral therapy to 95%.
Up to 70% of HIV-infected people in Russia are receiving treatment while 80% of patients are living with an undetectable viral load.
“In the next ten years, all efforts should be focused on these two parameters as part of the strategy. The document also lacks (as a performance assessment tool) an indicator of the proportion of patients with an undetectable viral load. We believe it is necessary to include this indicator in a form of regulatory document or Order because this is a condition that allows patients to believe they’re OK”, said Grigory Potapov, Deputy Chair of the Council on Guardianship in the Social Sphere and CEO of Pharmstandard JSC.
A decline in the number of cases of HIV transmission from mothers to children
Oleg Gridnev stated that the vertical route of transmission from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth had been halted thanks to measures taken to prevent and detect HIV cases at both federal and regional level.
“In 2019, more than 93% of pregnant women were seen in antenatal clinics, with administration of chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy being 93.5%. At the same time, there were only 165 confirmed cases out of 13,000 children born to mothers with HIV”, said Tatyana Golikova.
Russia is one of the global leaders in providing care to children with HIV
This is the view of Evgeny Voronin, an independent paediatric HIV specialist at the Federation’s Ministry of Health.
“The risk of vertical HIV transmission was reduced by 20% in the early 2000s to 1.2% in 2019 which has resulted in the prevention of more than 30,000 new cases of child infections. 99% of HIV-infected children are registered at AIDS centres; 95% receive antiretroviral treatment, with 90% having an undetectable viral load”, said Voronin.
An ever-increasing number of infections among adolescents
The proportion of adolescents with HIV is rising rapidly.
“Two or three years ago, adolescents comprised only 30% of cases, today that figure is 50%. At this rate, in three or four years’ time, this group will account for more than 70% of youngsters with HIV”, said Voronin. He explained that adolescents were the most difficult group to get to commit to antiretroviral treatment due to their social, psychological and other character traits.
“The latest and most effective innovative techniques need to be introduced aimed at getting adolescents to commit to their antiretroviral therapy. Refusing treatment will only lead to disease progression, an increase in the body’s resistance to medication and reduced life expectancy”, said the expert.
Alexey Mazus, chief specialist HIV advisor at the Ministry of Health, said that injectable drugs for HIV patients could soon be available in Russia. “They are already appearing on Western markets and could be a substitute for pills. The 1,460 pills taken by some patients every year could be replaced by 12 injections”, Mazus explained.