Russia's abandoned HIV children
February 21, 2006
BBC News, Moscow
Russia has one of the fastest growing Aids epidemics in the world, with 100 new infections every day. Increasingly, women and their infants are being affected.
Latest figures show 22,000 babies have been born to HIV-positive women. And many are being abandoned by their mothers into the care of the state.
If they're abandoned, they stay in the hospital.
In Russia, some 20 babies are born every day to HIV-positive women, with two of those, on average, abandoned by their mothers.
Russia has the largest HIV epidemic in Europe, and accounts for 70% of the cases in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. There were an estimated 860,000 people living with HIV at the end of 2003 in Russia, and this figure looks set to increase.
In Ukraine 10 years ago there were 183 registered cases of HIV; by mid-2004 there were more than 68,000. UNAIDS estimates that in addition there were probably many more unregistered cases over that period. TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV in Ukraine.2
Like Russia there are many injecting drug users (IDUs) in Ukraine. A 2002 survey of 212 IDUs in the region found needle re-use was widespread and condom use was low. However the same study found that many of those IDUs who knew they were HIV positive were found to be abstaining from sex, or using condoms.3