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Russia Reports Rise in HIV Cases

September 10, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) _ The number of Russians registered as having contracted HIV has reached 250,000 and efforts to slow the rapid spread of AIDS in the country have failed, officials said Wednesday.

The proportion of HIV patients who contracted the disease through sexual contact doubled from 6 percent in 2001 to 12 percent last year, said Russia’s chief epidemiologist, Gennady Onishchenko.

Officials have also seen a dramatic jump in the number of children born to infected mothers.

In 2002, 2,700 children were born to infected mothers, compared with 1,500 for the first eight months of 2003, he said. It was not clear if the infants were infected or not.

Experts have estimated that the actual number of people with HIV at up to 1.5 million.

AIDS came relatively late to Russia, but spread rapidly, primarily due to rising intravenous drug use and a lack of prevention programs. Officials said that the number of cases transmitted through sexual contact and during births was also growing rapidly.

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