Staunton, December 1 – Academician Vadim Pokrovsky, the head of the Federal Center for Prevention and Struggle with HIV Infections, says that 37,000 Russians died from HIV/AIDS, the highest annual toll since the epidemic began and nearly four percent of the just over one million who are officially registered as infected.
Among Russian men, the highest rate of infection is of those between 30 and 40; among women, those between 30 and 35, the medical specialist says. Over half – 57 percent – were infected via heterosexual contacts, three percent via homosexual ones, and 40 percent by drug use (znak.com/2019-12-01/chislo_smertey_ot_spida_v_rossii_dostiglo_rekordnoy_otmetki).
Despite rumors to the contrary, very few Russians have been infected while receiving medical care, Pokrovsky continues. Over the past three years, there have been only 62 such cases reported, although they have received more attention in the media and appear to be widely believed.
What makes this latest Russian death toll so depressing is that it almost certainly could have been much smaller. In most countries where HIV/AIDS has spread, the number of deaths has long been falling as a result of the use of medical innovations like anti-retroviral drugs. And those infected with HIV no longer view it as a death sentence.
But in Russia, such drugs are not as widely available as they should be thanks to “the optimization” of health care being carried out by the Putin government; and treatment is often delayed far too long because social prejudices against those with the disease not only are widespread but not effectively countered by any media campaign.