AIDS threatens economic growth in Europe

HIV / AIDS is a growing problem for the whole of Europe from Dublin to Moscow ", — said Kalman Mizsei, Regional Director of the United Nations Development for Europe and the CIS (UNDP), in his address to the European leaders who attended the meeting, which discussed regional response to the epidemic.

Referring to government employees and members of civil society who attended the meeting, "The elimination of obstacles: Partnership to fight HIV / AIDS in Europe and Central Asia," Mr. Mizsei urged the EU to use its political influence to consolidate resources for the fight against AIDS.

The incidence of infections has increased 50-fold in less than 10 years According to a recent report published by UNDP Project "Combating the epidemic: facts and policy" today from 1.2 million to 1.8 million people living with HIV in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. The rate of spread of new infectious diseases in Estonia, Russia and Ukraine are now the highest in the world. One out of every hundred adult citizens living in these three countries, according to experts, is a carrier of the virus, which is a measure of the threshold beyond which, according to the experience of many countries, the epidemic will be impossible to stop.

The report, published last week in Moscow, noted that the successful fight against the spread of the disease will require information campaigns to combat stigma, considering the interests of the most vulnerable groups in decision-making and, above all, strong political leadership. The report was prepared with the support of experts of UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO and the World Bank. The report examines in detail the situation in the area of HIV / AIDS in the region, the most vulnerable and high-risk behavior, and discusses why good governance and human rights must be seen as central elements in the fight against the epidemic. "We need to view AIDS as a problem of social development, not just as a disease of drug addicts," — said Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

Those most at risk of HIV infection exposed to youth Despite the diversity of epidemiological mechanisms in Eastern Europe and the CIS, the region is characterized by a high prevalence of infection among young people, especially young men: 8 out of every 10 people infected with HIV in this region are under the age of 30 years. The vast majority of infections (70%) who were recently diagnosed, are young men, but the rate of infection among women is also increasing.

"This region can not afford to let the young able-bodied people and future leaders have lost the opportunity to contribute to society — said Mr. Mizsei. — The success of economic and social reform depends on the younger generation. "

HIV / AIDS threatens economic growth
According to the report, the disease threatens the prospects for economic growth in the region, overloading the already overburdened social security system. The incidence of AIDS is able to reduce annual GDP growth by a full percentage point, which is a huge loss for any country. "For purposes of clarity, it suffices to mention that the 1% of GDP — is as much as the U.S. annually allocated to the needs of Europe's recovery after World War II with the Marshall Plan," — said Sir Bob Geldof addressing the participants of the Conference in Dublin.

Increased health care costs associated with treating people suffering from AIDS each year can be from one to three percent of GDP. Such prospects are a serious problem, especially for the poorest countries in the region.

Emergency prevalence of HIV in the region's overcrowded prisons, which the report calls a "real HIV incubators" is a serious cause for concern.

The consequences of inaction Of the 80,000 people in the region, which, according to WHO, is currently in need of treatment for AIDS, only 7,000 receive it. The reports draw attention to the fact that about 70 percent of the number of those 3000 people in CIS countries receiving antiretroviral therapy, live in Russia. This region is mainly used monotherapies antiretroviral programs recommended instead of the combination of three drugs, therefore increasing the risk of drug-resistant strains of HIV.

"It's time to expand access to AIDS treatment and begin to implement new initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of antiretroviral therapy — said Mark Denzon, WHO Regional Director for Europe. — Treatment, care and prevention must go hand-in-hand, and the relevant programs should be expanded to effectively combat the epidemic. "

A number of countries in Central and South-eastern Europe, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have made significant progress in the fight against the spread of the epidemic. They were able to achieve such results, largely due to the development of democracy. On the other hand, a successful transition to democracy in itself is not sufficient for effectively combating HIV, as the experience of Estonia, which is characterized as a successful transition to democracy and the highest rates of HIV.

Only twelve years ago in South Africa, less than 1% of the adult population is infected with HIV. Today the figure is twenty times higher. It's too late to talk about the possibility of preventing the crisis in Eastern Europe and the CIS. However, governments and civil society can take steps to mitigate the social, demographic and economic consequences of HIV / AIDS, and even to prevent further spread of the epidemic.

"The involvement of the European Union in the fight against HIV / AIDS is a powerful stimulus for the region, which will mobilize all necessary resources to combat the disease," — said Mr. Mizsei.

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