Russia Runs Risk of Exacerbating Country's HIV/AIDS Epidemic
July 30, 2010
"The Russian authorities have come under strong, widespread criticism for their policies aimed at dealing with the IDU/HIV epidemic," International Public Health Consultant Cesar Chelala writes in an opinion piece appearing in the Epoch Times that looks at the drug policies in a country that is home to some "2 million injecting drug users (IDUs), 60-70 percent of whom have HIV-related illnesses."
Russia's concentration on abstinence and criminalization as the main deterrent to drugs has "created obstacles to effective addiction treatment and HIV prevention," Chelala writes. "It is estimated that 80 percent of those Russians who are HIV positive became infected by using contaminated needles and syringes. However, despite the proven efficacy of harm-reduction strategies in HIV prevention, the Russian authorities have failed to take advantage of them."
"The close relationship between injecting drug use and HIV infection stresses the need for effective drug-addiction treatment strategies," Chelala continues. "As stated by Human Rights Watch, 'If Russia doesn't take steps to address the problems of its drug dependence treatment system, it runs the risk of continued and increasing spread of HIV, and even drug resistant HIV strains, due to lack of access by drug users to antiretroviral treatment and their suboptimal adherence due to poor-quality drug dependence treatment programs,'" he concludes (7/28).
To Reverse HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Russia, Country Must Move From Stigma, Discrimination to Protect the Most Vulnerable
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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