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Drug Use Rate Stabilizes, HIV Numbers Rise

Published: July 2, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • The main cause for the high incidence of HIV cited in the report was intravenous drug use, although experts also noted that there had been a rise in the spread of HIV from unprotected sex.
    Photo: Melissa Wiese / Flickr

The number of addicts in Russia has stabilized for the first time in decades, the countrys drug agency head said June 25, but figures showing a sharp spike in the incidence of HIV suggest the battle against drug abuse is far from over.

Head of the Federal Drug Control Service, Viktor Ivanov, told Rossiiskaya Gazeta in an interview published June 26 that the number of addicts in Russia had previously increased by more than 3 million people over a five-year period, and the number of drug-related deaths had been increasing by 5,000 to 6,000 annually.

For the first time, the situation with drug addiction has given grounds for cautious optimism, Ivanov said, without specifying figures for this year.

The number of drug-related deaths in the country has also stopped growing, though nearly 100,000 people still die from drug abuse each year, Ivanov said.

The drug agency head said the reduction was especially significant considering drugs have become more available, with his agency estimating about 30 tons of heroin alone or more than 100 million single doses are smuggled into Russia each year, Ivanov said.

Ivanovs optimism coincided with the release of a report by the countrys health watchdog warning that the rate of HIV infection was continuing to increase rapidly.

According to the report, published June 25, as of Jan. 1 this year, there were 798,122 Russians registered as HIV-positive. More than 7,500 of those infected were children.

In 2013, Roskomnadzor recorded nearly 78,000 new cases of HIV infection among Russian citizens, the report said. In 2012, that figure was at only 69,000, and in 2011 62,000.

Russians living with a positive HIV diagnosis make up 0.4 percent of the population. In other regions Irkutsk, Samara, the Sverdlovsk region, St. Petersburg HIV infection surpasses 1 percent, the report said.

The main cause for the high incidence of HIV cited in the report was intravenous drug use, although experts also noted that there had been a rise in the spread of HIV from unprotected sex.

The rate of infection among foreigners living in Russia was also a cause for concern, the report said, adding that in 2013, the percentage of tuberculosis and HIV infection among foreigners had spiked dramatically.

In accordance with Russian law, foreigners are required to take an HIV test before they are granted a Russian visa and the presence of an infectious disease gives authorities grounds to deport them.

Amid a dire shortage of drug rehab clinics in the country and the staggering rates charged by many of those that are available Ivanov argued that addicts who seek recovery still had access to more than 500 rehab clinics.

He did not specify how many of those might be free or affordable to a majority of drug users.

One cant say that this is a lot, but it is not too few either, he said. Another thing is that the state has no obligations to [those clinics]. Their work is not financed and not controlled.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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