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AIDS spreads in Eastern Europe, UN says

AIDS activists marched yesterday in Vienna, where the 18th International AIDS Conference is being held. AIDS activists marched yesterday in Vienna, where the 18th International AIDS Conference is being held. (Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images)
Associated Press / July 21, 2010

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VIENNA — Scientists and activists are warning that AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is on the rise even as a global conference reports progress on other fronts.

An estimated 1.5 million adults and children were living with HIV in the region in 2008, a 66 percent increase from 900,000 in 2001, according to the United Nations.

Early indications show that the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases climbed again last year, with the Russian Federation, Georgia, and Belarus reporting an increase in reported cases of 8 percent, 10 percent, and 22 percent, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS.

Of particular concern to analysts, policymakers, and activists gathered at the AIDS 2010 conference is that those suffering from the deadly disease in the region are often stigmatized, criminalized, and denied access to lifesaving treatment.

Some 3.7 million people in the region inject drugs and are believed to be the main transmitters of the virus.

According to UNICEF, the epidemic is increasingly affecting young people.

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