Medics predict growing AIDS epidemic in Russia

The AIDS epidemic in Russia is set to grow further during the next five years, stabilizing at 3 to 4 million infected, predicted Oleg Yurin, a senior official at a Russian Health Ministry think tank, in remarks to a news conference Tuesday.

He cited data suggesting that while last December, 177,000 Russians were HIV-positive, by this October, their numbers had mounted to 215,000. It has been estimated that there are 800,000 to 1,800,000 HIV-positive persons countrywide, with Moscow coming first as the urban area home to the biggest numbers of the infected.

Yurin noted that ever more people now contract AIDS sexually, not through shared hypodermic needles used to inject illegal drugs. "Here, we heed to pound brains intensely, work with the population and spell out the danger of the disease of the century," the scientist argued. He said this is "for the time being the only way to slow down the growth in the epidemic." He opposed what he called "the legalization of prostitution in Russia," which supposedly might "save people from the spread of the infection and allow to control the process."