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    RUSSIA, ESTONIA, UKRAINE TOP AIDS SPREAD RATINGS

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    MOSCOW, February 17, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Every 100th grownup resident of Russia, Estonia and Ukraine is HIV-infected, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown said in his report on the UN Development Programme "HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States: steps to stem the epidemic." The disease spread rates have been among the fastest in these countries in the past few years, said Mr Brown.

    One percent of the HIV-infected population is a time bomb, he said. The UN official urged to tackle this problem now, as otherwise it may thwart all human development progress.

    As the disease spread is in progress, it is absolutely essential that the Russian government should step in.

    The government must treat AIDS as a gravest challenge along with terrorism or drug abuse, emphasised Mr Brown.

    The unfavourable dynamics of the disease in CIS countries is largely due to the reluctance of the government and society to respect HIV-infected people's rights, according to him.

    It is important that infected people be treated like ordinary people, said Kalman Mizsei, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS. Discrimination in such cases is a serious problem, he said. HIV-infected people are often made feel like social outcasts, added Mr Mizsei.

    Messrs Brown and Mizsei urged the governments, as well as the media, to step up the effort against the epidemic.

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