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Russia's Takeover of Crimea Negatively Impacting HIV Prevention Services

April 14, 2014

"... One of the unwelcome first results of the Russian takeover of Crimea has been a radical change in policy on the treatment of injecting drug users. ... For Crimea's 805 registered methadone users, the future is bleak. Its health ministry confirmed on Thursday the ban on methadone therapy. In the next few weeks, the drug will have run out and the likelihood is that most of the users will be forced back to injecting. From the point of view of HIV prevention, this is disastrous. No one expects the Russians to do what in Britain we started doing in the 1980s, and provide a ready supply of clean needles. Many users will have no other option but to share needles. This is a sure way to spread the HIV virus. ... AIDS activists rallied in Kiev last week, calling on Crimea's new government to think again. There is little hope it will do so. ... The past 30 years have seen so many strides forward in helping those seeking to combat the HIV virus. But in Crimea, a life-saving medical service will no longer be offered and the patients who had been seeking help abandoned." (The Independent, 4/13)

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