Staunton, August 24 – Most analysts in Russia and the West argue that changes in the size of the prime child-bearing cohort of Russian women, long-standing secular trends to smaller family size in Russia as in other countries, and the impact of the economic crisis on family choices and mortality rates as the most important explanations for Russia’s demographic crisis.
Those three factors are undoubtedly the most important, and they are vectors that the Russian government can do little about at least in the short run. But this week brings news reports that spotlight three other factors, often ignored, where the Kremlin bears direct responsibility and that are making Russia’s demographic problems even worse.
First, Russia is in the midst of a dramatic increase in HIV inflections and AIDS-related deaths, the result of ever earlier and most often unprotected sexual contacts and drug use and of the government’s failure to ensure that there are sufficient supplies of anti-retroviral drugs to ensure that those infected do not die of the disease.
Russian medical experts say that HIV infections are up three to four percent in the last year alone, with some locations reporting even higher figures. And they are beginning to speak about HIV as “an epidemic” in Russia because the share of adults infected in many places is nearly two percent (versia.ru/yeksperty-yepidemiya-vich-v-rossii-prodolzhaet-rasprostranyatsyaiz.ru/635451/elina-khetagurova/infitcirovannykh-vich-stalo-bolshe-na-103