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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

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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