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International AIDS conference opens in Moscow

An international parliamentary conference on HIV/AIDS opened in the Russian capital Thursday.

MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti) - An international parliamentary conference on HIV/AIDS opened in the Russian capital Thursday.

The conference, HIV/AIDS in Eurasia and the G8's Role in the Fight against the Epidemic, is being held in the week of the 25th anniversary of the first case AIDS being discovered in San Francisco.

It is the second such event to be held in Moscow within a month, following the European and Central Asian AIDS conference in May.

Parliamentary members, political and public figures from member countries of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, which Russia presides over this year, are attending the event to outline further joint steps to prevent the spread of the deadly virus both on the regional and global levels and to sign a communique on specific proposals.

Tatyana Yakovleva, head of the health committee of Russia's lower chamber of parliament, said there were over 340,000 HIV-infected people officially registered in Russia, though independent experts suggest the figure is three times higher.

Yakovleva said the virus was penetrating all walks of life, though a few years ago 90% of AIDS patients had become infected via drug injections.

Her comments echoed Vadim Pokrovsky, head of Russia's federal AIDS research center, who said in April that most new cases were registered as a result of sexual contacts rather than through sharing dirty needles. The doctor also said then 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.

The number of the HIV-infected reached 40 million throughout the world, 5 million of which have contracted the virus this year. A total of 3 million people died of AIDS in 2005.

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