Russia: sex, drugs, and AIDS and MSF

BMJ. 1998 Jan 10;316(7125):138-9. doi: 10.1136/bmj.316.7125.138.


PIP: The first case of HIV infection in Russia was detected in 1987, there have since been 142 million HIV tests in the country, and 196 and 1535 new HIV cases were reported in 1995 and 1996, respectively. By 2000, the Ministry of Health forecasts that there will be 800,000 HIV-positive people in the country. It is culturally accepted in Russia to use drugs intravenously. There has been a rapid rise in the number of IV drug users in Russia, with an estimated 100,000 users in Moscow forming an important core group for HIV transmission, and similar numbers of users in Leningrad, Kalinigrad, and Rostov. Russian IV drug users are mainly aged 15-25 years who lead regular lives, attend school, and socialize freely with non-users, including having sexual relationships. Such behavior among IV drug users facilitates the rapid spread of HIV to the rest of society. Ketamine is popular among schoolchildren, who inject it intramuscularly, while homemade IV drugs also abound. High levels of IV drug use, a health system in a state of collapse, a growing incidence and prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and government inexperience with the HIV epidemic mean that an HIV epidemic in Russia is inevitable. Medecins Sans Frontieres has launched an HIV prevention campaign together with the government.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Health Education
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / prevention & control