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UN: HIV/AIDS Surging In Russia, Eastern Europe

United Nations, 3 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations has warned that HIV infection rates are rising rapidly in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe. A new report by UNAIDS, the UN agency for the HIV/AIDS crisis, says Russia and Eastern Europe are now home to the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the world.

The report says HIV in the region is spreading from primarily injection drug-using populations into the wider population. The report says that in Ukraine, almost 25 percent of new HIV infections now occur through heterosexual contact.

On the positive side, the report praises Polish authorities for a strong national response that has succeeded in curtailing the HIV epidemic among injection drug-users and prevented it from gaining a foothold in the wider population.

The UN report says that worldwide, the AIDS epidemic is still in an early phase. It warns that some 68 million people, mostly in Africa, are projected to die from the disease by 2020 in the absence of expanded prevention and treatment efforts.