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October 25, 2006 -- Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev today pledged that all those responsible for an HIV epidemic in the country's south would be punished.
Nazarbaev, who is on a visit to the city of Shymkent, also called for urgent steps to reform the health sector of Southern Kazakhstan Region, where seven children have died on AIDS and nearly 80 others have tested HIV-positive in recent months.
Authorities believe transfusions of HIV-contaminated blood are responsible for the spread of the disease.
A number of health officials have been brought criminal charges in connection with the outbreak. On September 20, Nazarbaev sacked Health Minister Yerbolat Dosaev and Southern Kazakhstan Region Governor Bolat Jylkyshiev, accusing them of negligence.
Regional Prosecutor Marat Akhmetjanov today told Nazarbaev his administration had exposed a network of hospital workers involved in trafficking in blood.
(Interfax-Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Today, Kazinform)
The United Nations has issued its annual report on the AIDS epidemic. Here are some of its findings:
- There are currently an estimated 40.3 million people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Of those, 17.5 million are women and 2.3 million are children under the age of 15.
- There were an estimated 4.9 million new HIV infections in 2005, including 700,000 children under the age of 15.
- An estimated 3.1 million people, including 570,000 children, died of AIDS in 2005.
- According to the report, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the disease was recognized in 1981.
- In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of HIV-positive people reached 1.6 million in 2005, up from 1.2 million in 2003. The bulk of people living with HIV in the region are in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. "Ukraine's epidemic continues to grow, with more new HIV infections occurring each year, while the Russian Federation has the biggest AIDS epidemic in all of Europe," the report states. A private Russian survey cited in the report found "no postive changes in sexual behaviour, with condom use decreasing slightly among people in their twenties."
- In Central Asia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have seen the most dramatic increases of HIV infections. In the Caucasus, the situation is described "relatively stable."
Central Asia: AIDS Project Seeks To Avert Epidemic
Eastern Europe: European Commission Warns Of 'Resurgent' HIV/AIDS Epidemic
Listen to a short interview by RFE/RL's Tajik Service with Gregory Henning Mikkelsen, director of EU team for a joint EU/UN AIDS initiative. In the November 21, 2005, interview, Mikkelsen describes the epidemic in Central Asia.Real Audio Windows Media