Five percent rise in Russia's HIV cases

Five percent rise in Russia's HIV casesMoscow, March 12 : Russia witnessed a five percent rise in HIV cases in 2011 compared to the previous year, a top medical official said Monday.

According to the country's chief sanitary doctor, about 62,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in Russia in 2011, five percent more than in the previous year.

The epidemic is becoming increasingly "feminised", with women accounting for over 50 percent of all newly diagnosed HIV carriers in 13 regions, said Gennady Onishchenko, head of the federal consumer protection service, at a press conference here.

Russia has an estimated five million drug addicts, a situation blamed mostly on cheap heroin from Afghanistan.

But sexual contact, mostly heterosexual, was gaining in prominence, with almost 40 percent of the people contracting HIV in 2011 having done so through sex, a 4.5-percent increase over the past three years, Onishchenko said.(IANS)

Drug use remained the main transmission route for the disease, with contaminated needles accounting for 57 percent of all infections.

People in the 30 to 40 age group were the main risk group, accounting for 42 percent of new infections, Onishchenko said.

Official statistics put the number of HIV-positive Russians at 637,000, but UNAIDS, a UN anti-HIV group, said on its website the figure could be as high as one million people.

Onishchenko acknowledged that more people, especially gay men and drug addicts, need to be tested for HIV.

The Russian government has earmarked 19 billion rubles ($600 million) on HIV prevention and treatment in 2012-2013, according to the ministry's website.