“AIDS indicators in Tatarstan are twice lower than those on average in Russia”
There are 14,000 people infected with HIV in the republic, most of the infected again are above 30 years
World AIDS Day was celebrated on 1 December. As Realnoe Vremya found out, Tatarstan marked this date with positive indicators: the ‘21st-century plague’ rate in the republic reduces. 879 newly detected cases of AIDS were found in the first 10 months of 2019. Moreover, if the incidence among the youth falls, the situation among middle-aged and old people is the other way round. The oldest infected Tatarstan resident learnt he was HIV-positive at the age of 72.
HIV screening in hockey match
The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome rate has been reducing in Tatarstan for the fourth year already. Senior specialists in diagnosis and treatment of AIDS in the Tatarstan Ministry of Health Firaya Nagimova said about it at a briefing at Tatar-inform news agency on 29 November. In the expert’s opinion, it is possible to achieve positive results because the problem of AIDS outstepped just one health care sector having turned into the task of the whole society.
“AIDS indicators in Tatarstan are twice lower than those on average in Russia. We achieved it only because the issues of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of AIDS are resolved at the level of society, intergovernmental cooperation,” Firaya Nagimova said. “For instance, we’ve recently signed an agreement with the Tatarstan office of the youth organisation Russian Students’ Union. Representatives of the organisation will take diagnostic and preventive measures, including in municipal districts.”
Stop HIV/AIDS campaign has been conducted across Russia since last week. Sites on which anyone can do free AIDS testing and obtain all information about the disease opened in several places at once. So people who went to the ice hockey match between Ak Bars and Sochi at Tatneft Arena on 29 November and the match of Neftekhimik and Sochi at Neftekhim Arena on 1 December. The free test includes a saliva sample (no need to do a blood test), while the results of the analysis were known in 15-20 minutes later.
A preventive measure was to be taken in Yuzhny shopping mall on 30 November. In addition, those who want to do the testing are always welcomed in the Republican AIDS Prevention Centre and its offices in Almetyevsk and Naberezhnye Chelny.
Specialists advise examining one’s HIV status at least once a year, also after any “risky situation”.
Over 14,000 people with AIDS live in Tatarstan
According to Director of the Department of Sanitary Protection of the republican office of Russia's consumer safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor Luiza Borisova, AIDS remains one of the key problems of modern time.
“Almost 38 million people have AIDS in the world now, over a million of them are in Russia. There were found 65,775 new cases of AIDS from January to October, which is less than the indicator for the analogous period last year by 8%,” Borisova said. “Tatarstan has 879 cases. The cases of the disease are found in all municipal districts of the republic. The average republican indicators are higher in Bugulma, Almetyevsk, Leninogorsk, Mendeleyevsk and Kamskoye Ustye Districts.”
There have been found 24,000 cases of infected people in the history of AIDS registered in Tatarstan. 6,648 people of them died, 4,000 — left the region. Now more than 14,000 positive AIDS patients are registered in the republic. According to Firaya Nagimova, 71% of them receive treatment allowing living a full life and for long: modern drugs suppress the viral load of AIDS if used correctly and they even allow giving birth to healthy children. HIV-positive women gave birth to 180 babies this year, only two of whom turned out infected.
Women above 30 years account for only a third of the AIDS patients. Moreover, as Firaya Nagimova noted, it is often favourable, married, socially active ladies who were infected by their husbands who often allow having extramarital relations.
Adults underestimate the risk
AIDS can be infected at any age, though, as practice shows, middle-aged and older people are more responsible when it comes to prevention than the youth.
“Active involvement of middle-aged and older peoples who aren’t in the group with risky behaviour to the epidemic process is the specifics of the spread of AIDS in Tatarstan. In 2019, 70% of the patients who were found it again are people aged 30-59 years and older, the main way of transmission is sexual,” Luiza Borisova goes on. “One of the reasons for why the epidemic shifted to the middle and older age group is insufficient awareness of this contingent about the ways of transmission and AIDS prevention methods, underestimation of a risk of being infected. We have a case when a 72-year-old man learnt accidentally during hospitalisation he had AIDS. During the investigation, it turned out he loved a young girl who was infected.”
The youth underestimate drugs’ guile
However, there is a reduction in the number of newly detected cases of AIDS among the youth. Rospotrebnadzor links this with the youth’s active use of the Internet where they learn the latest information about preventive measures.
Moreover, drug consumption is the main cause of the disease among teenagers and young people aged 18-30.
“What is more, it is not only injections with an infected needle. People think that using non-injectable drug substances they don’t run the risk of being infected with HIV. However, they don’t consider that the use of such substances leads to uninhibited sexual behaviour and, as a consequence, unprotected sex,” the specialist of Rospotrebnadzor warns. “It is extremely important to always use means of protection and in case of any risky situation do a test as soon as possible. The earlier a person learns about being HIV-positive and starts treatment, the higher the quality of his life and longer his lifespan is, while the risk of infecting other people is lower.”