At least 351 000 people are HIV-infected in Russia, chief sanitary doctor says

At least 351 000 people are HIV-infected,  according to the statement made by  the chief sanitary doctor, Gennady Onishchenko at a conference on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

"The dynamics of the spread of HIV start with the first registered case in Russia in 1987," he told a European and Central Asian AIDS conference in Moscow. "Today more than 351,000 people are infected with HIV in Russia."

The worst situations are in the Irikutsk, Samara, Orenburg, Sverdlovsk and Leningrad regions, ITAR-TASS reports.

Onishchenko said the number of infected Russian per 100,000 now stood at 200 people, echoing comments made in late April by Vadim Pokrovsky, the head of Russia's federal AIDS research center, who said the figure had reached 225.1 as compared with 200.7 in 2004, according to Reuters.

Onishchenko added that women were increasingly falling victim to the disease, which could have serious implications for the country's drastic demographic situation, and that heterosexual contact was now the main source of infection in most regions.

Earlier health authorities had suggested the problem was largely confined to drug users sharing dirty needles. "The share of women of child-bearing age [between 15 and 44] stands at 30-50% out of all HIV infected people in Russia," he said, adding that 15,000 children born from HIV infected women had been registered and 11,000 of them were under medical observation.

Onishchenko also said that in 2006 about 3 billion rubles ($111 million) had been allocated from the state budget to combat the disease and there were plans to spend 7.7 billion rubles ($285 million) in 2006-2007.