HIV Rates Increase Tenfold In One Decade In Eastern Europe

MOSCOW, Russia -- The first European and Central Asian AIDS Conference is underway in Moscow, Russia, where HIV infection is growing faster than anywhere else in the world.

HIV-positive children at an orphanage in Odessa, Ukraine

Over 1.6 million people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are HIV positive, of which over three-quarters are under 30 years of age.

Russia has the highest number of HIV cases in Europe, followed by Ukraine. Even though Africa has the highest number of cases, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are experiencing the fastest spread.

The rapid rise first started as a result of drug users sharing infected syringe needles. Now, the infection is also spreading as a result of heterosexual sex.

Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS Executive Director, opened the conference with a keynote speech. He thanked Dr. Gennady Onishcenko and colleagues from various Russian agencies and organisations for making the conference possible.

Dr. Piot reminded delegates that it was 25 years ago that AIDS was first recognised among 5 gay men in Los Angeles, California. Today, it is the leading cause of death among men and women aged 15-59. He warned that as such a huge proportion of new infections are among young people, the threat to future generations is a serious concern.

Dr. Piot stated that during 2003-2005 over 300,000 lives a year were saved in developing countries thanks to the tripling in the numbers of people receiving antiretroviral therapy.

Dr. Piot thanked Russian President Putin for convening the Presidium of the State Council of the Russian Federation to examine all aspects of the epidemic in Russia. He also thanked Ukraine President Yushchenko for his efforts.

Source: Medical News Today