Between 900,000 and one million people in Russia have the HIV virus, the head of an international AIDS lobby group said Monday.
Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund for to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a private-public group which has injected substantial funds into research, said the UNAIDS agency has completed substantial work "in order to obtain objective figures."
The Interfax and Ria Novosti news agencies quoted him as saying: "According to their estimates, between 900,000 and one million people in Russia are HIV-positive."
The Global Fund was created with public and private funds in 2002 with former UN secretary general Kofi Annan taking a leading role.
Last week, top Russian health official Gennadi Onishchenko accused UNAIDS, the UN agency charged with coordinating the fight against AIDS, of publishing "incorrect" figures regarding the number of HIV-positive people in Russia.
UNAIDS said in a report published November 21 that Russia currently represents 66 percent of the number of new HIV cases in the former Soviet Union.
According to official figures released by the Russian AIDS agency in October, 403,100 HIV-positive people were counted in Russia since the virus appeared in the country, of which 19,924 people died. Russian experts say the true number of HIV-positive is close to 1.3 million.