Number of HIV carriers exceeds 500 in Latvia

  • 2000-02-10
RIGA (BNS) - Fourteen new cases of HIV have been registered in Latvia during the first three weeks of 2000 bringing the total number of HIV carriers to 507, according to data of the AIDS Prevention Center.

During the last two years ever younger people have been contacting the disease with 29 percent of the HIV carriers falling in the age group between 19 and 24 years and 5 percent younger than 18 years.

From the young people infected with the disease, 76 percent got it from using intravenous drugs.

Since 1997, the portion of women among HIV carriers has increased rapidly. Of these, 76 percent are drug addicts. Among the HIV-infected women are six prostitutes, two of whom were infected during sexual intercourse while four got it while using drugs.

The AIDS Prevention Center has warned that as all HIV-infected women are in the childbearing age, there is increased risk of infecting children. In 1999 the first HIV-infected baby was registered in Latvia.

Curbing the use of drugs must be a question of national security and the chief priority, AIDS Prevention Center official Inga Upmace said.

Describing the situation concerning the spread of AIDS and HIVto the Parliament's defense and interior affairs committee , Upmace said the rapid increase in the number of HIV-infected persons calls for education among the population on prevention, diagnosis and treatment methods.

Upmace detailed three measures to restrict further spread of HIV. First, the inflow of drugs into the country should be reduced because today only 3-5 percent of all narcotic drugs transported into Latvia are confiscated.

Second, the demand for drugs should be reduced with the help of educational materials. Upmace cited as the third measure restricting the spread of HIV among persons already dependent on drugs.

Presently no HIV cases have been registered in 11 districts in Latvia: Talsi, Valmiera, Aizkraukle, Kraslava, Rezekne, Madona, Balvi, Gulbene, Cesis, Aluksne and Valka districts.

The spread of HIV stretches from the central part of Latvia to other regions, especially the western Latvian region of Kurzeme, the AIDS Prevention Center reported.