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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, Nov. 26


AmChams Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaacs Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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