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Russia and the Global Fund sign a substantial new AIDS grant

05 June 2005

Geneva, Switzerland, Russia and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have signed a substantial new grant worth US$ 34.2 million over the first two-year phase of the program, US$ 120.5 million over its full five-year term.

The new grant is made to a governmental NGO as its principal recipient, the Russian Health Care Foundation (RHCF), which is also implementing a World Bank loan, and is made to support a comprehensive treatment program addressing the needs of specific vulnerable groups. These groups include prisoners, intravenous drug users, commercial sex workers, men having sex with men, and pregnant women involved in prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs and their ongoing treatments needs. The grant is made to a non-governmental foundation, RHCF, set up by the Russian government for the implementation of large-scale projects funded by external donors.

These target populations are the focus of the grant as they represent over 85 percent of diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in Russia. The project aims to improve the identification and referral of individuals from these populations that are most vulnerable and strengthen their access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment, care and support.

This treatment grant is complementary to a World Bank loan to the Russian Government of US$ 150 million over five years for the prevention and treatment of HIV/TB, with a third of that sum earmarked for strengthening HIV infrastructure, an activity addressing a range of needs from the modernization of laboratories to training in HIV/AIDS treatment protocols to the highest global standards.

Like the World Bank loan, the Global Fund grant will initially focus on infrastructure and training. Thereafter, the majority of resources will be used to cover costs for medication.

Currently, only an estimated 1,500 people with HIV/AIDS in Russia receive antiretroviral treatment. The Global Fund grant will enable a ten-fold increase to 15,500 over the first two years of the program, rising to 75,000 in year five.

The program will start in seven regions to be identified as most affected among the relevant targeted communities, and expand to 14 regions by the end of year two, implemented through established and upgraded structures such as AIDS centers.

Russia already has one HIV/AIDS grant from the Global Fund, approved in October 2003, and made with an NGO consortium doing prevention work among the same vulnerable communities. The grant is for US$ 31.6 million over the first two-year phase of the program, of which US$ 22.3 million has been disbursed to date.

The communities targeted in both Global Fund grants have been chosen because of the high rates of prevalence of HIV among injecting drug users (IDUs) and because the majority of heterosexual transmission of HIV in Russia occurs from IDUs to their sexual partners. A significant proportion of IDUs are also engaged in sex work, acting as bridge populations for the transmission of HIV into the general population. Like IDUs, sex workers and men who have sex with men all face barriers to accessing HIV/AIDS treatment, care and support. Prisoners represent another highly vulnerable population addressed by both grants. The seroprevalence rate in the Russian prison system is over 2 percent, or five times higher than in the general population.

Representatives of these vulnerable populations have been actively involved in the development of the new proposal by providing advice and technical assistance, including the Russian NGO Consortium which secured funding from the Global Fund in the previous round of grant applications.

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