(AFP) — An investigation was launched in Russia on Monday into the death of a five-month-old HIV-positive baby whose mother refused her treatment because she believed the virus was a “myth”.
The woman, who has been HIV-positive for more than five years and always refused medical treatment, faces manslaughter charges and up to two years in prison in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
Investigators said the baby died in February following pneumocystis pneumonia, a form of pneumonia which causes a lung infection in people with a compromised immune system.
“The baby’s mother was HIV-positive and refused treatment for herself and her daughter,” investigators said in a statement.
The regional AIDS centre said the baby had been diagnosed with the onset of AIDS when she was hospitalised.
“The lungs of the five-month baby girl literally exploded from inside,” the centre said in a statement.
“The woman stubbornly kept saying that HIV is a myth,” it added.
After the baby’s death, the woman — who has two other children — blamed the medics, claiming the little girl died of regular pneumonia.
More than 900,000 Russians are living with HIV today, with 10 new cases every hour, according to the government.
Most people need treatment every day to prevent HIV destroying their immune system and causing AIDS.
Fewer than half of Russians with HIV are taking antiretroviral drugs, in part because of a conspiracy theory that the AIDS-causing virus is a myth invented by the West, officials and activists say.
Several cases of AIDS patients dying after a refusing treatment have been reported in Russia in recent months, including a 10-year-old girl who died when her parents denied her care in Saint Petersburg in August.
The Anti-AIDS Centre in the Omsk region in Siberia has won three trials against HIV-positive mothers who refused to have their babies treated.