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    (HIV INFECTION AND AIDS BECOME RUSSIA'S SCOURGE(

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    MOSCOW, April 8. /RIA Novosti/ -- The AIDS epidemic in Russia has reached a new stage, Academician Vadim Pokrovski, head of the federal research centre for combating and preventing AIDS, told the news conference on Thursday.

    The worst AIDS scenario in Russia - sexual transmission of the HIV infection. According to the centre, about 20 percent of the HIV infected have got it through sexual intercourse.

    By now, 270,826 HIV infection and AIDS cases have been officially registered. But the real figure may come up to 800,000, Pokrovski noted. The number of HIV-infected pregnant women is also increasing and reaching 70,000. Thus, the number of infected children is increasing, too.

    This year 56,000 HIV infected cases are in need of comprehensive treatment. The main problem of medical treatment in Russia is its high cost - from 5,000 to 8,000 dollars annually.

    In 2003 only three million dollars were allocated for the purpose, Pokrovski said. It is enough to treat several hundred cases.

    He prophesied that by 2008 in Russia 380,000 HIV infected and AIDS cases will contract the disease and die because of the lack of medical help.

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