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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Russia warned as Aids marches on
By Steven Eke
BBC News

Russian Aids awareness campaign
There has been much debate over Aids awareness campaigns
HIV/Aids is progressing dangerously in Russia, with more than 30,000 new infections registered in the past year, medical officials have reported.

The head of the anti-Aids programme, Vadim Pokrovsky, warned that a new wave of sexually-transmitted infections was adding to earlier drug-abuse cases.

He said a number of urban centres had serious concentrations of infection.

There are 350,000 people listed as HIV-positive in Russia but medical officials say it may be much higher.

They say the figure may well have exceeded one million.

The medical officials were reporting to Russia's state council, an advisory body which brings together the country's regional leaders.

No signpost

Many countries in the developed world continue to have growing numbers of HIV-positive people.

But what makes the situation so alarming in Russia is the very poor provision of medical services for those infected.

Only a small proportion receive anti-retroviral therapy from the state.

Russian state television has been showing an Aids clinic in the Urals region where staff said they had no equipment, laboratory, medicines or even enough money for a signpost.

Mr Pokrovsky says large numbers of young Russians will begin to die from Aids within two to three years.

The state council is discussing ways to better educate young Russians, especially teenage schoolchildren.

But there are powerful voices of dissent.

This week, Moscow's city parliament asked President Vladimir Putin to ban foreign anti-Aids campaigners from working in Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church later added its voice, accusing Western organisations conducting HIV education of promoting the commercial interests of Western contraceptive manufacturers.

The Russian Patriarch said they were "sexually and morally corrupting Russian children with beliefs and stereotypes alien to Russian culture and tradition".

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