(RIA Novosti) - A regional HIV vaccine development center will cost Russia's federal budget some $40 million, the country's chief doctor said Monday.
According to official statistics, there are more than 340,000 HIV-positive people in Russia, but independent experts have suggested that over a million Russians, or roughly 1% of the country's population, are infected, reports Trend.
"The money hasn't been allocated yet, but we have asked for $40 million on this program," Gennady Onishchenko said.
He said Russia's proposal to establish such a center for eastern European and Central Asian countries had been backed by the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations at a July 15-17 summit in St. Petersburg. Efforts against infectious diseases were a priority at the meeting.
Onishchenko said seven research institutions had been looking into the HIV/AIDS problem in Russia, and it was to be decided which one would be the main one.
The chief doctor also said stricter safety measures over donor blood should be established and said the stigma surrounding the condition had to be eradicated.
On July 11, Onishchenko said the main challenge was that most of the HIV/AIDS patients were marginalized.
"Many of them fear disclosure of their personal information by doctors," he said. "Society, too, behaves in a highly aggressive and selfish way toward these people."