Russia's Health Ministry plans to create a public HIV coordinating council to help the more than 235,000 Russians officially registered as HIV-positive. Of the official cases, most are people ages 18-25, and more than 80 percent use drugs. In 2002, the Health Ministry said more than 2,500 HIV-infected babies were delivered. Deputy head of the Russian Economic Development and Trade Ministry's social department, Vasily Donin, said HIV treatment for one patient costs $9,000 per year. Last year, only 193 million roubles (US$6.28 million) was set aside for the federal AIDS program. As a rule, said Donin, "these people do not have money and have to slowly die." The Health Ministry predicts that up to 500 people in Russia may die from AIDS every month in upcoming years.
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