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Kazakh Official Cites Alarming Rise In HIV/AIDS Cases

November 28, 2006 -- The head of Kazakhstan's main center to fight AIDS has warned that the number of new HIV-AIDS cases so far this year is nearly twice the figure of a year ago.

Maryam Khasanova, director of the Almaty-based Republican Center for the Prevention of AIDS, said today that nearly 1,290 cases of HIV/AIDS had been diagnosed in the first nine months of 2006, compared with about 680 cases during the same period in 2005.

Addressing reporters in Almaty, Khasanova said 7,088 people had been officially registered as HIV-infected by October 1, including 426 who developed AIDS.

Meanwhile, a representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kazakhstan, Aleksandr Zuyev, cautioned that the actual number of people living with HIV in that country could be "two or three times higher than official figures."

Khasanova said the situation is particularly alarming in the Qaraghandy, Almaty, Pavlodar, and Southern Kazakhstan regions. In the latter, eight children have died recently of AIDS, most likely after receiving transfusions of HIV-infected blood.

Those infections led to several senior dismissals and have prompted vows to investigate the operations of blood-transfusion centers throughout the country.

A more recent decision by the upper chamber of the Kazakh legislature is aimed at creating a Central Asian AIDS control center in the Kazakh second city of Almaty. That effort is backed by the World Bank and Britain's Department for International Development.

(Interfax-Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Today)