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HIV Cases Soar in Russia

November 26, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ More than 3,250 new cases of HIV have been registered in Russia this year, and 90 percent of those who contracted the virus were intravenous drug users, the health minister said Thursday.

The new cases bring the total number of people with HIV in Russia to 10,283, including 418 children, Health Minister Vladimir Starodubov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

More than 220 Russians have died of AIDS since the disease was first detected here in 1987, including 77 children, Starodubov said.

Russian officials warn that the actual number of HIV cases may be up to 10 times higher, as Russia still lacks comprehensive diagnostic and treatment programs.

While this year’s figure appear to mark a decrease in new HIV cases from 1997, when 4,300 new cases were registered, Starodubov warned that the virus may spread faster in the next few years if living standards continue to decline, bringing a rise in drug use and prostitution.

Officials say more than 90 percent of people testing positive for HIV are intravenous drug users who have caught the virus through infected syringes.

Update hourly