The year was 1999 when Murmansk Oblast had registered 39 new cases of HIV infection. Two years later, in 2001, the number basically blew up the charts with an alarming total of 359 new cases. The situation has not improved by 2013, as the region counted 370 new HIV cases, figures from Patchwork Barents reveal.
The Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) says the current epidemiological status of HIV in Russia is tense. By November 2014, the overall number of Russians infected by HIV totalled 864,394.
Sadly, Northwestern Russia was no exception to this trend. The five Russian Barents counties registered a total of 868 new HIV cases in 2013, which is the highest number registered in Barents Russia thus far.
Although the final annual figures for 2014 have not yet been published, data from Rospotrebnadzor shows that the situation continues to worsen. Just in the period January-October 2014, Murmansk Oblast registered 341 new cases of HIV. This is 41 cases more than in the equivalent period in 2013.
Around five thousand people in Murmansk Oblast are currently living with an HIV-infection. The primary reason behind the disease spread has been drugs. Drug abuse developed relatively early in this region, forming a big reservoir of infection among addicts, the Russian Federal Scientific and Methodological Center for Prevention and Control of AIDS informs. Most of the HIV cases in 2014 were registered among men and people in the age group of 30-40.
The situation is slightly better in the rest of Barents Russia, although figures still cause concern. Komi Republic registered 210 new cases of HIV infection in 2013, which was two cases less than the equivalent figure in 2012. Furthermore, 160 and 122 new cases were registered in the Republic of Karelia and Arkhangelsk Oblast. The annual changes (from 2012) in these regions were 26 % and 5 %, respectively.
Nenets AO has the lowest HIV rate in Barents Russia. In 2013, the region registered 6 new cases, which was three cases more than in 2012.
Figures from Finland, Norway and Sweden differ Data from Patchwork Barents shows that people living in the Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish parts of the Barents Region are far less exposed to HIV infections.
For example, the highest HIV rate in 2013 amounted to 10 new cases and was registered in Västerbotten, Sweden. The lowest rate was in Finnmark (Norway), which had registered only one new case of HIV, and Lapland (Finland), where there were zero new cases in 2013.
Go to Patchwork Barents for more data and visualizations on HIV and health issues in the Barents Region.