The Russian Health Ministry has decided that the country cannot afford to spend $1.2 billion that was supposed to go toward ramping up the response to its burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic.
RBC, a respected Russian news agency, broke the story, which subsequently was reported by the English-language The Moscow Times.
The money would have helped both slow HIV’s spread and treat infected people with antiretrovirals over the next 4 years. According to a report issued by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS last year, the Russian Federation accounted for more than 80% of new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in 2015. That region had the fastest spread of HIV in the world, with a 57% jump in new infections between 2010 and 2015.
As the The Moscow Times reports, only 19.3% of Russians were tested for HIV in 2015 and only about one third of the estimated 854,000 infected people who know their status were receiving antiretroviral treatment.