Staunton, April 17 – Over the past 30 years, 1,250,000 Russians have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and about 300,000 have died, according to Academician Vadim Pokrovsky; but what is most disturbing is that their numbers continue to go up and may rise dramatically if the most advanced medications now imported from the West become unavailable.
In 2016, the head of the Federal Center for Prevention and the Struggle with HIV/AIDS says, doctors identified 102,200 new cases, while in 2017, they diagnosed 104,500, an increase that reflects both better diagnostic work and the spread of the disease itself (ria.ru/society/20180417/1518771261.html).
According to Pokrovsky, the average age of those infected has risen from 20 to 20 to “about 35” and spread from men to women and more often by sexual congress than by drug use as was the case earlier. The disease is spread far more by heterosexual ties than homosexual ones, he says, because only two percent of Russians are homosexuals.
The disease is also differentially distributed geographically, with the Urals, Siberia and the Volga region being the leaders followed by St. Petersburg and other port cities.
What is worrisome is that some of the most effective medications may no longer be imported, and if that should prove to be the case, the situation could become dire indeed. An example of the nature of that threat is provided by Tajikistan: Twenty years ago, Dushanbe decided to save money by not importing vaccines (forum-msk.org/material/news/14556201.html).
Now, there is a polio epidemic in that Central Asian country, and it is spreading to Russian cities where unvaccinated Tajik migrants are coming in large numbers (nazaccent.ru/content/27039-za-god-v-rossiyu-vehalo-bolee.html). Something similar could happen with HIV/AIDS, analysts suggest, if anti-retorviral drugs are no longer readily available in Russia or its neighbors.