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Experts Say Russia Ill-Equipped to Fight HIV

Published: August 18, 2014 (Issue # 1824)



  • Volunteers handing out clean needles near a pharmacy. Such programs are the preserve of NGOs in Russia.
    Photo: Pascal Dumont / SPT

Olesya asks if her glittery hair clips are in place, if her hot pink lipstick needs reapplication.

It's all she can do to detract attention from the stump where her arm used to be, the price she paid for injecting drugs even after the site became gangrenous.

People walking past the pharmacy where volunteers chat with Olesya — an intravenous drug user with HIV — glare at the young woman, quickening their pace as they go. Others, many of them also young women, stop to accept the clean syringes, HIV tests and pregnancy tests being handed out as part of an outreach program to do the things that many specialists say authorities are not: acknowledge the fact that a full-blown HIV epidemic is becoming more and more of a reality each day.

Behind the pharmacy in northern Moscow is a field where some drug users go to shoot up. This one, in stark contrast with many others, is mostly free from used syringes.

"There is one other field that is just a carpet of used syringes," one of the volunteers says.

The same group running the outreach program, the Andrei Rylkov Foundation, a grassroots organization in Moscow that seeks to promote awareness of drug addiction and develop a humane drug policy, conducts periodic cleanup operations in public places to dispose of used syringes. These are often the same parks where families take their children to play, an alarming reminder of how close the epidemic is to spreading to non-drug users.

Olesya pulls up her pants to reveal another festering injection wound.

"Maybe you should go to the hospital," the volunteers tell her.

"Will they take me?"

"You're officially registered as a Moscow resident, right? Then they'll take you."

"Last time they refused because of my leg. They said gangrene is for drug addicts."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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