Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Russia Accepts AIDS, Tuburculosis Loan
April 4, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia accepted a $150 million World Bank loan to combat the rapid spread of AIDS and tuberculosis in the country, World Bank officials said Friday after four years of negotiations.

The World Bank first offered the loan in 1999 but disagreements over bank rules delayed the project. Russia objected to World Bank rules requiring monitoring of patients receiving medication, the bank said.

After talks, President Vladimir Putin signed off on the loan, which will take effect this year, the World Bank said.

``Russia has one of the fastest-growing AIDS epidemics in the world'' and a ``fearsome'' problem with tuberculosis, particularly drug-resistant strains, said Olesoji Adeyi, a World Bank health specialist.

``It's a potential dual epidemic,'' he said, adding that people with immune systems weakened by the AIDS virus are especially vulnerable to contracting TB, which he called an ``opportunistic disease.''

AIDS came relatively late to Russia but spread rapidly, primarily from intravenous drug abuse and a lack of prevention programs. Officials have registered more than 230,000 cases of HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - though health experts say the actual number of HIV infections tops 1 million.

Tuberculosis, meanwhile, has emerged as a serious problem in Russia's overcrowded prisons.

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