NGOs ask president to take the HIV situation under his personal control
In spite of the ministry of health and social development’s announcement that HIV positive people were being fully provided with drugs, at a press conference which took place at the Russian Information Agency Novosti, the director of the Federal Applied Science Centre for Preventing and Combating AIDS, Vadim Pokrovsky, said ‘There is evidence that the medicines are not reaching patients in all regions.’
Alexandra Volgina, director of the Svecha (Candle) foundation added that irregularities in supply had started a few years ago. In the course of a study of the provision of drugs to the HIV positive in 20 towns, written evidence was seen to the effect that in 13 of them from January to August there was a lack of drugs and as a result the treatment schemes had been altered. ‘The Russian Health Foundation estimates that 120,000 HIV positive people are in need of the drugs, which were, however, purchased in quantities sufficient for only 75,000. So those needing treatment are not receiving their drugs on time and the newly infected are being refused treatment’, said Ms Volgina. Mr Pokrovsky said that when treatment was interrupted, its continuance was rendered less effective, substituted preparations could lead to more serious consequences, and interrupted treatment of HIV positive women who are pregnant led to the children becoming infected. Irregular supplies reflect negatively on the treatment of all HIV positive people. For some they are life threatening.
One of the reasons for the interruptions in supply is late purchasing. The drugs for this year were received only in August according to Denis Goldevsky of the International Coalition for Readiness to Provide Treatment in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is necessary to create a reserve supply to treat HIV. It might be a federal reserve held in Moscow or held regionally. said Mr Goldevsky He added that the governmental commission on HIV/AIDS had not met for over two years and furthermore that the country had no strategy for combating the disease.
The number of HIV positive people will increase but the state will not be able to provide treatment for everyone, suggested Mr Pokrovsky. He thought that insufficient attention had been given in the country to the prevention of HIV/AIDS In the last 9 months 45,000 new HIV cases had come to light, that is 150-160 cases a day. (According to the ministry of health there were 39,000 new cases).
According to a report from UNAIDS the number of new cases worldwide has declined and only in Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Russia is it continuing to increase. In Western and Central Europe about 0.2% of the population is infected, in Eastern Europe and Asia, 0.8% and in some regions of the Rusian Federation the level reaches 1%.
Aleksei Burlak, of the National Association of People Living with HIV, said that members of the NGO had petitioned Mr Medvedev to take the siituation under his personal control and make it a state priority. 5,000 people supported the petition which was sent to the president on 1 December, the Worldwide Day of the Fight against AIDS. Signatures continue to be collected.