Sunday, April 23, 2006

Russia: Deepening Aids Epidemic

On Friday, BBC reported on Russia's deepening Aids/HIV epidemic. According to the head of the country's anti-Aids programme, "a new wave of sexually-transmitted infections was adding to earlier drug-abuse cases." Only last year, over 30,000 new infections were registered in Russia. This only adds to the tendence of Aids as an increasingly alarming problem to society.

What is worse, is that neither the government nor other parts of society seem to take the problem seriously. Already today, Russian hospitals and healthcare stand helpless in the treatment of HIV/Aids-victims. Resources are simply too scarce, and the development threatens to consume an increasing portion of the national health budget in the future if drastic measures to halt the epidemic are not taken. Already today, there are some 350,000 registered HIV-positive in the country. These figures are, however, grossly underestimated, and some experts claim that there may be over a million HIV-infected in Russia alone.

Despite that these alarming facts for long have been well-known to Russian leaders and doctors, little has been done to halt what must now properly be labelled an epidemic. Instead, politicians seem to turn a blind eye to the problem, blaming the west for exaggerating the problem and by so doing corrupting Russian youth. Earlier this week, the Moscow city duma called on president Putin to ban foreign anti-Aids campaigners from the country.

According to the BBC, the Orthodox Church also claimed that activities of western organisation aimed at "promoting the commercial interests of Western contraceptive manufacturers." Patriarch Alexei even said that they were "sexually and morally corrupting Russian children with beliefs and stereotypes alien to Russian culture and tradition."

What is there else to say than that Russia seems intent not to see to the interests of its own citizens and do something to save the Russian youth before it is too late. In the meantime, an increasing number of Russians get infected with this plague of our times.

10 comments:

Andreas Ribbefjord said...

Although subsaharan African countries take the lead in infections per capita, Russia has the world's highest growth rate in hiv/aids infections.

The dicease is still new to Russia, have arised during the postsoviet period. Failing to prevent the rampant spread will smack right back in an few years time, when people start dropping off on a larger scale.

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear Andreas,

Yes, indeed HIV/AIDS is becoming a problem with potentially fatal consequences not only for Russians infected with the disease and their families, but also to Russia as a state. In a time when demography has been proclaimed a threat to national security, it is no great idea to shy away from one of its causes. HIV/AIDS must be dealt with swiftly and decidedly in order to initiate necessary and sufficient long-term measures to address the problem. As for demography there is a great deal of elderly in the population who will pass away within a few years, decreasing the number of Russians even more. The situation is, however, not as alarming as is sometimes reported. W. Shedd on the "Accidental Russophile" has some interesting things to say about this in a recent entry: http://accidentalrussophile.blogspot.com/2006/04/misinformation-power-line-russia.html.

Yours,

Vilhelm

La Russophobe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andreas Ribbefjord said...

I don't know about them admitting it, La Russophobe. Perhaps they would just have gulaged the infected and be done with it? ;)

I wouldn't rely on communist state propaganda as my only source. But then again, I shouldn't rely blindly on Sweden's largest dialy speadsheet either, from where I got the information.

There must have been some independent research carried out on the subject by now. It's the general understanding, that hiv was low during the final decades of the Soviet union, only to boom after the fall, isn't it?

HIV+DaveyBoy said...

Seeking other HIV positive people (AIDS, PLWA) to chat about dealing with being "POZ", please drop in and visit me on http://www.13km.com ;)

Vilhelm Konnander said...

I am sorry, but I have too little knowledge on the issue. Perhaps though, posting your comment may draw interested parties to your site. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

As I understood a very few, short years ago, HIV and AIDS was just as high in Ukraine, per capita, as it is in Africa.

This information has been gathered by the West and is in current public school text books.

In any case, NO attention is given in the West to Central European HIV/AIDS problems, except in the afore mentioned sources.

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear anonymous,

Interestig point. I assume that problems in Central and Eastern Europe generally may be great. However, I have far too little knowledge of the issue to really have something to add. Perhaps, one should take a look at UNAIDS statistics to get a more overall picture of the issue.

Yours,

Vilhelm

Anonymous said...

oh, by the way, this covering up is also well know to be happening in China, as well.

Anyone wishing to research this may go to an American Magazine Publication, A & U. I don't recall the issue date. However, in a back issue, there is an interview with a doctor in China. He was jailed for making public announcement of HIV contaminated blood being used by blood banks.

Evidently, using China's decentralized system, local and regional health authorities are choosing to use the contaminated blood. Then, as it seems by the artice, these authorities are being supported by State authority. There is no attempt to punish or rectify the situation or wasn't at the date of the magazine's release of the interview.

So CE and Russia are not alone.

Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear anonymous,

I would not myself go so far as to argue that the problem in Central and Eastern Europe is comparable to that of China.

First, measures may assumably vary depending on which country one looks at.
Secondly, the AIDS-issue is something that, I believe, is supressed by social mechanisms, i.e. sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases are hard to talk about in society.
Third, resources are generally too scarce, why politicians will avoid dealing with a socially sensitive issue until they are forced to do so by the mere consequences of an epidemic. As long as the people do not express an interest to address AIDS, the political will to do so appears weak.
Fourth, most HIV-positive have little voice in society. As the population is generally so impoverished in many countries, AIDS is but one of several problems of social malaise, which has difficulties of being voiced publicly.

Consequently, I have difficulties to agree with you that there is some great or general cover-up of the AIDS issue in Central and Eastern Europe. I would rather say that it is a combination of the above and other factors. It is simply hard to admit that one has yet another problem, which will incur great long-time costs. Then, it is easier to address issues closer at hand.

Yours,

Vilhelm