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Global Business Coalition President Says Russia Is Losing Battle Against HIV/AIDS

Richard Holbrooke -- president of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- on Thursday said that Russia is losing the battle against HIV/AIDS because of government inaction and a lack of public awareness about the disease..

Up to 1.3 million people are living with HIV in Russia, and the number of cases continues to rise, Vadim Pokrovsky, head of Russia's federal AIDS center, said in May. According to Pokrovsky, Russia has recorded 402,000 HIV/AIDS cases, but more accurate estimates place the number between 1.2 million and 1.3 million. He also said that about 17,000 people out of the 402,000 recorded cases have died from AIDS-related causes. About 40,000 new HIV cases were reported in 2006, Pokrovsky said. He added that the number of new cases reported in the first quarter of 2007 increased by 8% to 10% compared with the same period last year. He also said that between 100 and 110 new HIV cases are registered in Russia daily (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/17).

According to GBC, about 80% of the country's HIV cases occur among people ages 15 to 30 -- meaning that the disease poses a threat to Russia's economic development. About 90% of people living with HIV in Russia and Ukraine do not know their status and will not know until they have progressed to AIDS, according to Holbrooke.

Russia is in "terrible, terrible danger," Holbrooke said, adding, "Over the next few years," HIV-positive people who are unaware of their status "will be spreading it unintentionally." Clyde Tuggle -- Coca-Cola's president in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus -- said businesses are major stakeholders in the global battle against HIV/AIDS. Coca-Cola had a "very selfish motivation" for joining GBC in Russia, Tuggle said, adding that the company is "dependent on one thing: the sustainability of this community, on a successful, healthy and prosperous Russia. Without that, I will have no business" (AP/, 10/25).


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