Russia’s Dagestan faces AIDS epidemic

Dagestan, 13 March, Caucasus Times: Dagestan occupies the first place in the Southern Federal District in terms of the rapid proliferation of HIV, the chief public health doctor of Dagestan, Eleonora Omariyeva, has told Caucasus Times.

Dagestani doctors believe that the current situation in the republic is serious enough to be described as a true epidemic, she said.
Starting from 1989 the number of the HIV-infected people in Dagestan has reached 855, Omariyeva said. In 2006 alone, 234 new cases were registered.

“All 10 towns and 33 districts of the republic have been affected by the epidemic,” she said. “The situation is especially critical in the town of Derbent where we identified 96 HIV-infected patients in 2006.”

The SPID [AIDS in Russian] republican centre said that 36 more HIV-infected people were registered in 2007.

The main way the disease proliferates is through the use of syringes for injecting drugs. Taking into account the large number of drug addicts in Dagestan, doctors say that the official statistics on the number of HIV-carriers may be understated.

So far 101 people have died from AIDS in Dagestan. Over the same period HIV-infected mothers gave birth to 25 babies. Research shows that “78 per cent of those infected are young people aged between 18 and 35”.

Dozens of people go through anonymous checks in the AIDS centre. “Each month we check some 13,000 people for HIV,” the director of the SPID republican centre, Abdula Abdullayev, has said. In all, more than 260,000 people were checked in 2006, he said.

However, it is not here that the majority of the HIV-infections is registered. Doctors identify 70 per cent of those infected while checking in hospitals people belonging to risk groups. Some 38 per cent of all HIV-carriers are found in remand centres, prisons and colonies of Dagestan.
All samples of blood go to a special laboratory.

Despite all this dangerous statistics, Dagestan still lacks an in-patient hospital for AIDS patients and HIV-carriers.

Diana Malbahova, Mahachkala, Caucasus Times

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