Nearly 3,000 children will be tested for AIDS because of the infection of at least 27 babies and four mothers while being treated at a regional hospital, the official newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda said Saturday.

It also quoted Vladimir Pokrovsky, head of a special AIDS research laboratory, as saying acquired immune deficiency syndrome was spreading in the Soviet Union, where the public is generally indifferent to the deadly disease.At least 27 infants treated between last April and December at the Elista Children's Hospital and four of their mothers have tested positive for the AIDS virus, officials revealed Friday. Elista, 700 miles southeast of Moscow, is the capital of the autonomous Kalmyk region of south central Russia.

Although the initial source of the AIDS outbreak has not yet been discovered, authorities blamed poor sanitary conditions and possibly re-use of disposable syringes for the spread of the killer virus.

Pokrovsky said, "The epidemic has entered our country. It is gathering speed and we now have 146 virus carriers." Pravda said all of the infected children were treated at the hospital between April and December last year. "Nearly 3,000 children will be tested to find all who might be infected," the newspaper said.