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Russia's Spiraling HIV, Health Problems Highlighted In UN Report

From the World Bank's daily press review (18 October 2005):

Almost one in 150 people in Russia lives with HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis and other health problems are spiraling, a UN report said Monday, reports Agence France Presse.

"HIV infection in the Russian Federation has acquired an epidemic character," the United Nations Development Agency (UNDA) said. According to a UNDA statement, 860,000 people live with HIV/AIDS in Russia, which has a population of about 148 million. Russia is also "one of 22 countries with high tuberculosis and with the highest TB mortality rate in Europe," the report, entitled "Russia in 2015: Development Goals and Policy Priorities," said.

Changing men's lifestyle habits that include excess alcohol consumption, drug addiction and smoking is key to solving the country's problems, the report said. "Stereotypes of men's behavior in Russia include excess alcohol consumption, drug addiction and smoking as stress reduction measures and ways of demonstrating manhood. Growth of suicides among men is an extreme form of reaction to growing socio-economic pressure and inability to perform the traditional role of breadwinner," the statement said.

The Moscow Times writes that Anastasia Aleksandrova, one of the authors of the UN Development Program's report -- which for the first time adapts the UN's Millennium Development Goals to make them more relevant to Russia -- said "Russian human capital can and must become a more important resource than its natural resources.” Despite its expanding economy and its well-educated work force, Russia faces a number of acute problems characteristic of the world's poorest nations. "There are two regions in the world where life expectancy is declining: It's sub-Saharan Africa and Russia," said Kirill Danishevsky, another author of the report. "One doesn't even need money [to stop it], one needs political will." At close to 14 years, the gap in life expectancy between men and women in Russia is the highest in the world. By 2015, the gap would ideally be narrowed to three years, the UNDP says.

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