A suggestion to impose mandatory HIV testing on couples getting married received support from Russia's State Duma health committee last week, according to Interfax (linked article in Russian).
Anna Popova, head of the health care watchdog group Rospotrebnadzor proposed mandatory testing at a youth forum called Terra Scientia. Popova also said she would support genetic and hepatitis testing for potential parents as well.
Supporters said that such testing would help combat the HIV epidemic in Russia, which has the highest HIV infection rate in Europe.
"It's a reasonable proposal and should be supported," Nikolai Gerasimenko first deputy chairman of the committee told Interfax, according to The Moscow Times. "The number of HIV-positve people is growing and it is becoming a serious problem. I think our top public health official [Popova] is absolutely right."
Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal AIDS Centre, said he supported couples getting tested before marriage but only if it was voluntary, and raised concerns about privacy and disclosure.
"For example, who should be informed of the results? The future wife, the bride? How would she react? Most likely the marriage would fall apart," he said in an interview with Business FM radio.
LGBT advocates also worry about the implications, as well, since the country is at the height of an antigay crackdown.
News of the testing comes in the wake of a proposed ban on foreign-made condoms earlier this month, while Russia faces a number of HIV-related problems. The cost of HIV treatment have spiked as Russia faces a falling ruble and a shortage of medication.
In addition, rates of infection have doubled in the past five years, which Pokrovsky blamed on conservative approaches to fighting HIV by promoting traditional values.