The Kremlin is continuing to reject preventative approaches to curb Russia’s spiralling HIV epidemic. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, there were 93,000 new HIV cases in Russia in 2015, with most new infections coming from injecting drug use and heterosexual sex. A million people in Russia have HIV, including almost one per cent of pregnant women, which is the threshold for a generalised epidemic in the country of 143 million people.
According to the Journal, harm-reduction approaches such as needle exchanges, methadone replacement therapy and promoting condom use have reduced rates of HIV infection in bordering countries, including Ukraine, which has a longstanding HIV epidemic.
“But, for the Kremlin, harm reduction is off the table,” the Journal reports. A recent report from a Kremlin-backed research institute recommended a categorical refusal of harm reduction, seen as inconsistent with the “Russian model” of fighting HIV.
“One of its co-authors claimed that promoting condom use encourages people to have sex, and argued that the best form of protection against HIV was to ‘be in a heterosexual family where both partners are loyal to each other’.