A shift in the transmission of HIV from drug use to sexual contact is threatening to spread the epidemic into the general population and sharply increase the total number of new cases in the coming years.

By 1 January 2004 the total number of registered HIV cases was 270,826. The number of HIV positive individuals continues to grow, and a new trend is emerging in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia that is deeply worrying. Several years ago, experts warned that once the HIV epidemic runs its course amongst injecting drug users, the disease would be transmitted through the sexual route to the general population. This prediction is now coming true. While in 2001 only 4.7% of HIV positive registered cases were linked to sexual contacts, by 2003 they accounted for almost 20%.

A number of Russian and international organisations have joined their efforts to counter this trend and a new project „HIV/AIDS Prevention and Combating, Phase I, Russia” supported by the European Commission has been launched with a budget of €2.5m. Over the two years Russian and international experts will implement the project in cooperation with the Russian Federal AIDS Centre and the Russian Ministry of Health. As well as working in Moscow, the project operates in two pilot regions – Ulyanovsk Oblast and the Republic of Buryatia. Objective of the project is to prevent the spread of the HIV epidemic and to reduce the negative consequences of HIV epidemic by developing awareness and information campaign aimed at young people, employees and their employers and government officials. The expected results include increased commitment of national leaders to HIV/AIDS prevention campaign, increased tolerance and respect for the rights of HIV positive individuals, and enhanced knowledge and acceptance of safe sexual behaviour.

Disseminating the HIV prevention message is a high priority for Russia. Activities of the project focus on teenagers and young adults as well as on those who work with them, including teachers and healthcare professionals. There is a series of information programmes on HIV/AIDS prevention in schools in the pilot regions. The project cooperates with Federal and Regional government officials and with the business community in preparing their own HIV prevention programmes.

The project is financed by the European Union within the framework of the EuropeAid programme, and is being implemented by international consortium led by WYG International Ltd. Limited (UK), in collaboration with International Family Health (UK), Stichting soa-bestrijding (Netherlands), the Agency for Social Information (Moscow) and Humanitarian Project (Novosibirsk).

For additional information please, contact WYG International Ltd. Ltd Tel: (095) 250-67-17 Fax: (095) 251-59-62

E-mail: [email protected]

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