Prisoners, drug users and sex workers will be the major beneficiaries of a $34.2 million grant to Russia, approved on Thursday, the Geneva-based fund said in a statement.
Currently only 1,500 people in Russia, where about one million are living with HIV/AIDS, receive antiretroviral drugs, according to the Fund and United Nations health agencies.
“The Global Fund grant will enable a ten-fold increase to 15,500 over the first two years of the programme, rising to 75,000 in year five,” it said, adding the grant could be extended to be worth $120.5 million over a five-year period.
The grant, its second to Russia for AIDS, aims to provide treatment and support to infected prisoners, intravenous drugs users, commercial sex workers, homosexuals and pregnant women seeking to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
“These target populations are the focus of the grant as they represent over 85 percent of diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in Russia,” the fund said.
The AIDS epidemic in Russia is driven by heterosexual transmission via the country’s two million to four million injecting drugs users, who often also engage in commercial sex work, thereby acting as a bridge to the general population, it said.
The HIV seroprevalence rate in the Russian prison system is more than two percent, or five times higher than in the general population, it added. Russia has 870,000 prisoners, according to the fund.
The Global Fund, a public-private partnership, was set up in 2002 to fight the three diseases that kill six million people a year.
Revision date: July 6, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD