Russia Pledges Money To Support HIV, TB Programs In Neighboring Countries

“Russia plans to step up its international role in fighting infectious disease across eastern Europe and central Asia, in what some observers see as the latest effort by the Kremlin to reassert its political influence over its former Soviet neighbors,” the Financial Times reports. “Arkady Dvorkovich, economic aide to President Dmitry Medvedev, pledged money for a new international development agency to support programs against HIV and tuberculosis (TB)” at the Millennium Development Goal 6 Forum hosted in Moscow last week, the newspaper notes.

“The move offers prospects for extra funding to tackle HIV in a region with the fastest continued growth in HIV anywhere in the world, where infections have risen threefold over the past decade to affect 1.4 million people,” according to the newspaper. “But some observers fear a growth in bilateral funding would also allow Russia to impose conditions on its neighbors’ HIV programs,” the Financial Times writes, noting, “This has raised concerns that it would export its own hardline attitude towards drug users, which has undermined efforts to slow the growth of the epidemic.” However, “[o]thers stressed the symbolic importance of Russia agreeing to host a meeting as a sign of fresh political will to act to tackle HIV,” according to the newspaper (Jack, 10/17).