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Russia to offer free treatment for HIV/AIDS in 2006
  11/ 07/ 2006
MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - As many as 15,000 HIV-positive Russians will have access to free drugs and therapies in 2006, the country's chief medical officer said Tuesday.
Gennady Onishchenko said about 20% of Russia's 350,000 officially registered carriers of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, would be able to benefit from a free treatment program at its initial stage this year, but that the figure could double in 2007.
He said the main challenge facing the program was that most of the HIV/AIDS patients were marginalized.
"Many of them fear disclosure of their personal information by doctors," he said. "Society, too, behaves toward these people in a highly aggressive and selfish way."
The Russian government has allocated some 4.1 billion rubles ($152 million) for a national project to combat HIV/AIDS in 2006, Onishchenko said.
Measures against AIDS and other deadly infectious diseases rapidly spreading across the world are high on Russia's formal agenda for the Group of Eight summit it will be hosting this weekend.
Western countries have repeatedly criticized Russia for not doing enough to tackle its fast-growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to independent observers, well over a million Russians, or roughly 1% of the country's population, are infected.
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