22,000 HIV cases registered in Moscow

22,300 HIV-positive individuals are registered in Moscow today. 19,000 of them are Muscovites. 1,800 new infection cases have been identified in the Russian capital this year. Last year, 25 people died of the disease.

This data was announced on Monday by Andrei Seltsovsky, head of the city government's health department.

He said the drug addicts still accounted for most of the cases, although the percentage of those infected as a result of sexual intercourse had risen too. Half of the newly identified HIV-positive cases in 2002 were aged 19 to 25.

Nonetheless, a special scheme implemented in Moscow meant that the pace of the virus' spread in Moscow had slowed. The program involves blocking drug traffic routes, fighting prostitution and promoting a healthy lifestyle, the city official said.

He went on to say City Hall would put forward an initiative about mandatory HIV testing for all job applicants. While this practice is not unusual abroad, it is regarded as infringement of human rights in Russia, an attitude to the problem of AIDS virus spread which Seltsovsky said is not acceptable.

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