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AIDS Conference in Moscow

15th May 2006

15052006_aids1.jpgThe first European and Central Asian AIDS conference is to open in Moscow. It has been called to formulate a response to one of the fastest growing rates of HIV infection in the world. Russia's HIV epidemic is the biggest in Europe.

The United Nations (UN) says that across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of people living with HIV had reached an estimated 1.6 million by the end of last year, a tenfold increase in less than a decade. Ukraine and Russia have most of the region's cases, with 75% of those infected under 30. The United Nations says that the situation in both countries represents major challenges for prevention, treatment and care.

In the 1980s, when HIV was first detected in what was then the Soviet Union, officials portrayed it as something which mainly affected foreigners, the fear and mistrust of outside influence has persisted. Russian politicians have condemned some current anti-HIV campaigns carried out by non-government organisations, accusing them of encouraging prostitution and drug use. However, rates of infection continue to rise.

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