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Russia at a Turning Point on AIDS Epidemic: Exploding Infection Rates or Leadership for the World? Business, Government Leaders Meet in Moscow Today

Submitted by: GBCHealth

Categories: Health & Wellness, Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions

Posted: Oct 25, 2007 – 11:44 AM EST


HIV levels set to increase by up to 30% by end of decade; TB prevalence throughout country could increase pace of epidemic

Oct. 25 /CSRwire/ - MOSCOW. - October 25, 2007 - Russia's prosperity and economic competitiveness is under threat from a rapidly advancing HIV epidemic-already the worst in the developed world and likely to grow by as much as 30 percent by 2010. A group of top business and government leaders are working on plans in Moscow today designed to head off that terrible scenario, and also potentially make Russia a world leader on an issue of great importance to all nations.

"This is a critical moment in Russian history-one path is tragedy and the other path is potential for real world leadership," said Dr. John Tedstrom, who heads the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), the group that organized the Moscow meetings. "We know that working partnerships between government and business make a dramatic difference on public health issues that otherwise seem hopeless. Russia has the tools to get this done very well, and President Putin has called for plans to get government and business working together on civil issues."

How Russia can organize effective public-private partnerships to save people from AIDS and TB is the topic of the meeting, which includes officials from some of the world's most prominent companies together with government representatives.

In addition to Tedstrom, participants in the forum will include:

  • Former US Ambassador to the UN/ GBC President and CEO Ambassador Richard Holbrooke;

  • UN Special Envoy to Stop TB and former President of Portugal Dr Jorge Sampaio;

  • representatives of the Russian public health agencies;

  • Chevron Vice Chairman Peter Robertson;

  • Academy of Russian TV President and Russian National Association of Business Against AIDS co-chair Vladimir Posner;

  • Group of Companies Vostok-Service President Vladimir Golovnev;

  • The Coca-Cola Company, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine President Clyde Tuggle;

  • representatives from the health ministries of both India and China;
as well as representatives of:
  • AngloAmerican
  • Bayer
  • BD
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Chevron
  • PepsiCo
  • Pfizer
  • Unilever
  • SABMiller
With an HIV prevalence rate higher than any other G8 nation, international experts estimate that as many as 1.2 million Russians already are HIV-positive and will swell to over 1.65 million by 2010 if current trends persist unabated. Most of Russia's HIV-infected citizens are intravenous drug users, but there are indications that the disease is moving rapidly into the general population through heterosexual contact.

The diseases pose a critical economic and social threat to the country, compounded by predictions that Russia's population could fall by as much as 30% as a result of its current demographic crisis which do not consider the additional impact of a generalized AIDS epidemic.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had previously spoken about the need to confront his nation's AIDS problem, endorsed public-private partnerships as an effective means of implementing civil society projects.

"In Russia an endorsement by the president is absolutely critical," Tedstrom said. "The ministries and the regional governments and the federal government have no tradition, no history, no practice of working with the private sector or civil society."

"The HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics have a direct negative impact on different aspects of life in Russia, including the economy," said Golovnev. "By combining the resources of all parties - government, business and NGOs - society enhances its ability to combat the HIV and TB epidemics. Businesses have the resources and skills to make a significant contribution to fight these deadly diseases in collaboration with government authorities."

Russia is also at risk from one of the world's highest TB rates. The number of new TB infections in Russia more than doubled between 1990 and 2004, and the WHO estimates that 80% of the population are TB carriers. As more HIV cases progress to full blown AIDS, there is a worry that Russia's HIV epidemic will fuel a TB epidemic.

"Public-private partnerships have already shown their worth in addressing HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The corporate community can play a vital role in building up existing partnerships and creating new and vibrant ones in emerging economies such as Russia, China and India to accelerate progress against these deadly diseases," said Sampaio, a key panel participant.

An example of the collaborative effort needed in Russia is the Russia Media Partnership to Combat AIDS (RMP), a coalition of 40 media companies coordinated by GBC/TPAA, which has successfully leveraged more than $30 million in free airtime for HIV/AIDS public service announcements since 2005. The PSA's led to more than 11 million people seeking information about the virus or getting tested. The RMP has been endorsed publicly by the Ministry of Health, which also allowed the partnership to promote the national AIDS hotline number.

The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC)
is an alliance of 220 international companies leading the private sector fight against these three epidemics. GBC works to leverage the business sector's unique skills and expertise - including comprehensive workplace policies; community programs; core competencies; leadership and advocacy and public-private partnerships - in the global drive to eradicate these deadly illnesses. The official focal point of the private sector delegation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GBC maintains offices in New York, Paris, Johannesburg, Beijing, Geneva, Nairobi, Moscow, and Kiev.

www.businessfightsaids.org / www.businessfightstb.org / www.businessfightsmalaria.org

Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA)
is an international non-governmental organization - with offices in Moscow, Kyiv and New York - that fights HIV/AIDS in Ukraine, Russia and neighboring countries. TPAA raises awareness and builds political will; provides high-quality policy research and analysis; strengthens civil society; forges innovative global partnerships; and, supports policymakers, business executives, and media leaders in their efforts to stem the growing tide of HIV/AIDS in the region. Announced in the spring of 2006, TPAA and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC) are currently undergoing a merger process. Together, GBC and TPAA's programs span four continents. For more information, visit TPAA online at www.tpaa.net and GBC online at www.businessfightsaids.org.

For more information, please contact:

Phone: Mobile: 646-361-8058
Phone: Tel. +7 (495) 510 5370

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