Sad statistics, according to which, more than 600 new HIV positive cases have been registered in Estonia this year.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one per cent of the 15-49 year old citizens are HIV positive in Estonia. The infection is not that frequent in any other country north of Africa as it is in Estonia.
Human sufferings that are caused by the disease to the virus carriers and those close to them cannot be measured with money. Yet, the HIV epidemic has heavy economic consequences also for the country and society : in the coming years, Estonia has to be ready for the treatment of thousands of people infected by HIV, who have reached the phase were they will be in need of expensive medications.
The HIV treatment for one person costs nearly 100,000 kroons a year. If 250 people were treated this year, then by 2009 their amount will grow to 4,000. With the current prices, this means that 400 million kroons has to be spent for the HIV treatment after four years.
It is clear that the society has to help the sick. But the HIV carriers' treatment cannot be financed from the health insurance fund, but directly from the state budget. Otherwise, the HIV epidemic would mean longer queues for treatment and worse medical help.
But more than anything, it would be necessary for the politicians to admit their mistakes from the past and to learn from them. For the roots of the HIV epidemic lie in many aspects in the fact that years ago money was not given for preventive measures: for the drug addicts' syringe change and treatment. But the old mistakes have not been learnt from. There is not enough money for preventive action now either. By the standards of the WHO, the syringe change should cover 60 per cent of injecting drug addicts - but we have three times less than that. The methadone treatment should be available to one-third of the injecting drug addicts, but it is almost ten times less. Although HIV has passed the limits of the traditional risk groups in Estonia, this does not justify looking past them.
Source : BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union