HIV rates have reached a new high in Russia, as more than 1 million of the country’s people have tested HIV-positive.
Russian officials expressed worry over the surge in HIV and AIDS diagnoses.
“The epidemic is gathering strength. Unfortunately, the measures that have been taken have clearly not been enough,” Vadim Pokrovsky, chief of Russia’s AIDS center, told Reuters in an interview on Jan. 21.
Pokrovsky believes the record high number of HIV cases could be even larger than estimated, with up to 1.5 million Russians potentially infected, reports News.com.au.
Since 1987, when Russia first recorded a case of HIV, roughly 204,000 Russians have died of HIV. This year, Porkovsky estimates 93,000 new HIV cases in the country.
In 2014, roughly 90,000 new cases were diagnosed, as Russia struggles to limit the growth of HIV cases.
Russia intends to invest more than $475 million to combat the HIV epidemic, but Pokrovsky told Reuters that more than twice that amount would be needed to effectively fight the virus.
The rising rates of HIV come as Russia is plagued by economic crises. Low oil prices, a weak ruble and sanctions have been dragging on the Russian economy for months.
Pokrovsky noted that roughly 20 percent of Russia’s known drug users are HIV-positive, as are about 10 percent of homosexuals in the country.
About 55-60 percent of Russia’s HIV cases have been linked to drug use, while 40 percent are linked to heterosexual sex. Gay sex is linked to 1.5 percent of cases.
Pokrovsky noted that the HIV epidemic is concentrated in certain areas of the country.
“In separate regions we can say there is already a generalized HIV epidemic,” the AIDS center official said.
The deaths resulting from HIV in Russia may be higher than estimates suggest. Pokrovsky iterated that the entire Russian population has not undergone testing for the virus.
Data from 2015 is expected to show a 5-10 percent increase in the number of deaths from HIV in Russia.