Posted on August 22, 2017
"Activists in Russia are warning that the country faces a dramatic rise in the number of deaths from AIDS because of the government's failure to fund the battle to stop the spread of HIV, the virus that causes the deadly disease.
With more than 900,000 people in Russia on the official register of HIV infections, the government has budgeted only 17.5 billion rubles ($297 million) for treatment.
Experts with the Federal AIDS Center say at least five times that amount is needed.
'The [current] budget only allows 300,000 people to undergo treatment,' center Director Vadim Pokrovsky told RFE/RL. 'So we are only taking those who have the most serious immune-system deficiencies -- those who are in immediate danger of developing full-blown AIDS.'
According to the UNAIDS program, about 50 percent of HIV-infected people worldwide are receiving antiretroviral therapy, while in Russia, that figure is just one-third.
At the same time, the rate of new infections in Russia is running at about 100,000 per year, according to UNAIDS. Pokrovsky said this aggravates the 'imbalance' between the number of people requiring treatment and the amount of medicine available.
In 2016, 17,500 people died of AIDS in Russia, according to official figures. This year, Pokrovsky predicted, that figure will likely top 20,000 as part of an ongoing upward trend.
'And that is according to [the state statistics agency] Rosstat,' Pokrovsky said. 'According to our data, many more could die.'"