Staunton, May 19 – More than 318,000 Russians have died of AIDS since officials began registering deaths from that cause in 1987. Nearly 37,000 died in the last year alone. And more will, both because of ignorance – a quarter of those with HIV don’t know it – and government cutbacks in funding for health care, experts say.
In most countries, anti-retroviral medications are effectively combatting this plague, but in Russia, the disease continues to spread and deaths continue to mount at ever increasing numbers (tass.ru/obschestvo/6445999 and ura.news/news/1052384613). Moreover, experts say, “about a quarter” of HIV-infceted in Russia remain undiagnosed (ridus.ru/news/298686).
But mortality even among those who have been diagnosed is on the rise as well, Iskander Yasaveyev, a Kazan sociologist says, largely because of medical cutbacks. “It is difficult not to see the link between the reduction of financing, on the one hand … and the growth of mortality among people with HIV on the other” (idelreal.org/a/29887806.html).
Last month, the Coalition for Readiness for the Cure which seeks to ensure access to needed medications for all with HIV released its annual report, one showing that the number receiving any treatment and those receiving a complete cycle of treatment has fallen (itpcru.org/2019/04/08/itogovyj-otchet-po-monitoringu-goszakupok-arv-preparatov-v-rf-v-2018-godu/).
International specialists on combatting HIV/AIDS say that for the spread of that disease to be contained and then reversed, medical assistance must be offered to at least 90 percent of those suffering from it. In Russia, 25 percent don’t know they have it; and only about 40 percent who have been diagnosed are receiving the necessary medications Yasaveyev says.
The Russian government says that it plans to reach the 90 percent coverage level by 2020, but it is not moving in the direction necessary to do so, the sociologist continues. Instead, Moscow cut spending in this area by 769 million rubles (13 million US dollars) between 2017 and 2018, a trend that Coalition said was “a matter of extreme concern.”