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Sergei Oleinik commented on HIV infection reports in Penza region

14:25 | 07.11.2014 | Society

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Penza, 7 November 2014. PenzaNews. Sergei Oleinik, Anti-AIDS public foundation president, the deputy chief medical officer on epidemiology for the Penza region special medical care center, gave his assessment of HIV infection reports for the past ten months of 2014.

Sergei Oleinik, Anti-AIDS public foundation president

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“Despite the fact that on the whole, we have managed to keep the situation under control in the Penza region in the last three years, the outlook remains very disturbing and completely corresponds to the pessimistic scenario described in the roadmap, which by the way has been left without an approval. [...] The epidemic spreads practically unchecked,” he said.

He added that the regional HIV infection rate for the past 10 months of 2014 grew by 21.6% compared with the same period last year.

“We can, of course, comfort ourselves with the fact that this figure is only 17.8 cases per 100,000 (242 people, compared with 199 in 10 months of 2013), instead of 160 per 100,000, and that it is significantly higher in Russia overall,” said the epidemiologist.

According to Sergei Oleinik, the reports on HIV infections should undergo more thorough checks.

“If we dig deeper, we will learn that the situation declined in all large towns. Infection rate is 25.5 per 100,000 in Penza, 32.5 in Kuznetsk, 32.8 in Zarechny. It grew by 30% in Penza, in Kuznetsk — by 60%, and in Zarechny, it more than doubled. The situation is not good in other areas of the region, either. And if we go even deeper, the situation in large cities is not equal. Because the proportion of cases obtained through injection needles in Penza among newly diagnosed HIV cases from 2011 to 2014 ranges from 48% to 61%, in Zarechny it reaches 70%, and falls within 24-33% in Kuznetsk. And by the way, the low proportion of drug users among HIV-positive in Kuznetsk has no connection to drug fight successes: the epidemic becomes more common, and, HIV is actively transmitted sexually, while there are almost no addicts left uninfected in the town. In Penza, about 7% of drug users are HIV-positive — the infection has quite a few people to spread over to,” the president of Anti-AIDS public foundation stressed.

He also drew attention to the fact that the confusion in data took place due to the attempts of those responsible to make the situation more presentable.

“They sometimes draw up overall infection rate with Zarechny, sometimes count it out: sometimes they use data from FAPSI, sometimes not. The situation in the penitentiary system, by the way, is a great indicator in this phere, since all new inmates get tested. And people who get there are involved in drug trafficking. And it is the number of identified HIV-positive new inmates that grew in 10 months of 2014 by 2.5 times. We can ignore the fact that more than a third of convicted are not from the Penza region. The overall picture looks only slightly better,” Sergei Oleinik wrote in his LiveJournal.

He also noted that the HIV prevention program among Penza drug users has been practically shut down, just like in Kuznetsk, and it is not likely to have any future.

“It was the one-year break in this program in 2011 that led to the outbreak in Penza and the general infection rate rise in the Penza region as a whole to the levels of 2001. And only a fool wouldn’t understand what its shutdown in 2014 would lead to, considering the extremely bad situation in drug trafficking and barely controlled HIV-infection situation associated with the dominance of ‘salts’ that lead to HIV spread both through injections and sexual contacts,” the expert expressed his opinion.

Sergei Oleinik also expressed his regret the Russian epidemiology becomes “descriptive,” simply stating certain trends.

“And I also regretfully state there no more real mechanisms to suppress the HIV epidemic in the Penza region. Those measures held to enhance prevention measures (of sexually transmitted diseases and drug prevention) will give significant results no sooner than in 5-7 years and only if we manage to complete this work, and ensure its high quality. Distraught? I agree,” the president of Anti-AIDS foundation concluded.

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