Russia to propose new center for HIV/AIDS vaccine at G8 summit

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MOSCOW, May 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will propose at the July G8 summit in St. Petersburg establishing a new center to work on an HIV/AIDS vaccine, a presidential aide said Tuesday.

The disease poses a potentially dire threat for Russia, already under threat from a demographic crisis, as official statistics say a total of 350,000 people are HIV+, but independent experts claim the figure is about three times higher.

But Igor Shuvalov, Russia's representative within the club of industrialized nations, said Russia would put forward a new project when the leaders of the world's industrialized nations meet.

"We plan to propose an initiative on establishing a new center for creating a vaccine against HIV/AIDS and are ready to assume a significant share of the center's financing," he said.

He added that Russia might also refuse help from the UN Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"Russia will be raising its obligations on investing in the Global fund," Shuvalov said. "It is possible that we will no longer receive money from the Global fund and will switch to domestic financing [for programs to combat HIV/AIDS]," the official said.

On Monday, Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief doctor, said that the government would establish a coordination committee for combating HIV/AIDS by the end of May.

Vadim Pokrovsky, head of Russia's federal AIDS research center, said in April that the number of HIV/AIDS infected Russians per 100,000 people was continuing to grow, reaching 225.1 as compared with 200.7 in 2004.

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