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Number of new HIV cases in Russia less than that in Europe
"Russia is now witnessing a moderate development of the epidemiological process, with up to 7 per cent annual growth in new cases against 8.1 per cent in Central and Western Europe," said Galina Chistyakova, the deputy director of the Russian health ministry's sanitary and epidemiological welfare department.
According to Chistyakova, the result was reached "through systematic HIV preventive efforts." In her words, all HIV-positive patients who need treatment are granted free medicines. More than USD 323.81 million are to be allocated from the federal budget for these purposes in 2010 alone."These funds are enough to meet the demands of territorial AIDS centres, which have first-hand information on the number of such cases," she noted.
From 21 to 23 million people, or 16 per cent of Russia's entire population, annually undergo AIDS tests.
"As a result, we have managed to prevent a growth in the death toll from AIDS caused by stable viruses, a key reason behind the mortality in this category," the health ministry's official said. "Moreover, the AIDS death rate among drug addicts in Russia does not exceed that in developed countries."
A total of 14,000 HIV-positive patients died in Russia in 2009, Chistyakova said and added the figure included those who died for reasons other than HIV, i.e. injuries, overdosing, etc.
So, according to official statistics, HIV killed only 4,254 in Russia in 2009, she noted. Currently, Russia boasts one of the world's highest indices of healthy children born to HIV-positive mothers - 94 percent.
In case a HIV-positive mother turns to a specialized centre in due time, the risk of her baby catching the HIV is reduced to two percent.
Meanwhile, in a number of European countries, such as Belgium, Greece, and Italy, there are no national programs of testing pregnant women, the Russian health official noted.