Soviet Describes AIDS Errors
Weiss, Rick, Science News
Soviet describes AIDS errors
It didn't make sense. Of 17 million men screened in the Soviet Union as of 1988, only five had antibodies indicating HIV infection. Of 4 million women, only eight tested positive. So officials were surprised in December 1988 to learn of two positive tests in the small city of Elista near the Caspian Sea, where no AIDS cases had ever been seen.
What followed was the discovery of a public health debacle that left at least 84 children and seven nursing mothers infected with HIV, and disturbing new evidence that the AIDS virus can pass from baby to mother during breast feeding.
Vadim V. Pokrovsky of the Central Institute of Epidemiology in Moscow now reveals details of the Elista tragedy, which first drew official attention when an ill baby tested positive for HIV and an unrelated adult woman tested positive after donating blood. Investigators found that the woman and child had previously had overlapping stays in the same local hospital. Testing of other children and adults hospitalized during that same period revealed HIV infections in 61 children and seven mothers. Of 5,000 hospital staff and family contacts tested, only one infected woman's husband tested positive. …