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Richard Gere helps Russian HIV task force

Nov. 3, 2004 at 11:52 AM

MOSCOW, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Hollywood actor Richard Gere met with leaders in Moscow to create a task force comprised of the creative community to combat HIV/AIDS in Russia.

Gere attended a Eurasian forum Wednesday to discuss a $30 million campaign focused on HIV/AIDS awareness programs at schools and educational programs for journalists, the St. Petersburg (Russia) Times reported.

The group, comprised of charity groups and media figures, also recruited Russian rock star Andrei Makarevich of Mashina Vremeni.

Experts say Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, along with China and India, are areas of the world with the fastest growth rate for HIV cases.

More than 300,000 Russians are now registered as HIV-positive, compared with less than 40,000 in 1999.

"Today it is 1 percent, but it can quickly become 5 percent, then 10 percent," Gere said at the conference.

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