Russian Federation leadership in regional efforts to achieve MDG 6 is key: UNAIDS Executive Director

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Russian Federation leadership in regional efforts to achieve MDG 6 is key: UNAIDS Executive Director

01 July 2011

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé (left) pictured with Arkady Dvorkovich, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation and Chair of the Organizing Committee for the International Forum on MDG 6.

In a one-day visit to Moscow on 29 June, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé praised the commitment and leadership of the Russian Federation in national and regional efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6—a global target that calls for halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV and other diseases by the year 2015.

The President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, has called for a broad debate on reaching MDG 6 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In response to his call, the Russian Government will host the International Forum on MDG 6 from 10-12 October 2011, bringing together scientists, government officials and representatives from civil society.

“Russia’s leadership is vital to addressing the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” said the UNAIDS Executive Director at a meeting of co-chairs for the MDG 6 Forum, led by Arkady Dvorkovich, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation. “Victory in this region’s HIV response will only be possible with Russia’s leadership,” he added. Co-chairs of the Forum include the Government of Russia, UNAIDS, The World Bank and the Global Fund Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Russia’s leadership is vital to addressing the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé

 “The fact that this Forum will take place in Moscow and is being organized by the Presidential Administration, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sends a strong signal that MDG 6 is a political priority for Russia,” said Dr Gennady G. Onishchenko, Head of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights and Human Wellbeing, in a meeting with Mr Sidibé on 29 June.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia is one of the only regions of the world with a rising HIV epidemic. Between 2000 and 2009, the estimated number of people living with HIV in the region nearly tripled, from 530 000 to 1.4 million. Most people in the region are infected with HIV through injecting drug use. However, in recent years, an increase in the sexual transmission of HIV has been documented.

Russia and its neighboring countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are drawing on a number of strengths to address the regional HIV epidemic, including a high level of education among the population, a strong medical research community, highly competent health professionals and a strong culture of monitoring and case reporting. More than 90% of HIV-positive pregnant women in the region receive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT)—among the highest regional rates of PTMCT coverage in the world.  

Civil society highlights need for targeted HIV prevention

In a meeting with the UNAIDS Executive Director on 29 June, 21 representatives from civil society organizations in Moscow underscored the need for considerable scale-up of HIV prevention measures for populations at higher risk of HIV infection, particularly people who inject drugs.

“We see that the government is becoming more open and ready to listen to us and to work with us,” said Igor Pchelin, Executive Director of All-Russian Union of People Living with HIV, a non-governmental organization based in Moscow. “We have to leverage this transformative moment. Civil society organizations stand ready to partner with the government in reaching out to key populations and ensuring the sustainability of prevention measures in the country,” he added.