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2005-07-15-Abuses over HIV rife in Russia
HIV-positive Russian women and their children face widespread discrimination and abuse, Human Rights Watch reports.
Children born to HIV-positive women are often segregated in Russia for no medical reason, the rights group says.
According to official figures cited in the report, nearly 10,000 HIV-positive Russian women have given birth since 1997. Up to 20% abandoned their babies.
The report criticises "the very real discrimination" the women and children face - often from healthcare providers.
"The stigma of HIV/Aids is with them everywhere: in the workplace, at school, at the neighbourhood clinic, even in their own homes," said Lois Whitman, children's rights director at Human Rights Watch.
HIV-positive women interviewed by the group's researchers reported being verbally abused by doctors and nurses, or even being denied treatment altogether.
Plea for action
A health ministry official quoted in the report admitted that segregating children with HIV was a violation of their rights and "enforces the stigma society attaches to the disease".
Human Rights Watch urged the Russian government to prioritise measures to end such discrimination and address the issue publicly.
It complained that so far the "meagre" resources put into the battle against HIV/Aids had done little to educate the public or halt the spread of the epidemic.
Russia has some 300,000 HIV-positive people, according to government data. But Russian and foreign experts estimate the true number to be closer to one million.