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In Russia, incidents of HIV are growing faster than anywhere else — making HIV in Russia a real threat to the entire population. While UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) data say Russia is behind South Africa and Nigeria, PEPFAR (The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) experts have concluded that Russia has the highest rate of HIV cases in 2017.
According to Dr. Vadim Pokrovsky, Head of the Federal Scientific and Methodological Center for Prevention and Control of AIDS in Russia, there are about 100,000 new HIV cases per year. And despite available treatments like PrEP, the number of people dying from AIDS is on the rise. In 2014, 12,000 people died; in 2015, 15,000 and 18,500 in 2016.
Unfortunately, getting people HIV treatment is difficult. With treatment, not only would the risk of transmission be drastically reduced, but their life expectancies would go up. But in Russia, only a third of patients receive appropriate treatment. The government’s inefficient at distributing drugs, and the quality of the antiretroviral drugs themselves are so low many patients stop due to toxic side effects.
“Our patients need to take 10 to 16 pills of antiretroviral drugs. In Europe, it’s only one pill per day,” Pokrovsky said.
This lack of proper care means HIV is actively spreading to all communities. According to the Federal Center for Prevention and Control of AIDS, most Russians infected with HIV in 2017 got the disease via heterosexual intercourse. Another 1.4% of patients are children born from HIV-positive mothers. Drug addicts make up 46.1% HIV patients in 2017. Only 2.3% reported cases are via homosexual intercourse.
Taking antiretroviral medicine is essential, no matter the stage of the disease. If you start HIV therapy early, you can live a long, happy life! With antiretroviral therapy, life expectancy jumps to 74 years!