Though Russia faces one of the world's fastest-growing HIV epidemics, the government has been slow to respond and hostile to effective HIV prevention. Violations of the rights of injection drug users, little political or financial support for needle exchange, human rights abuses against HIV-positive women and their children, and stigma and misinformation about HIV characterize the national response. For countries elsewhere in Eastern Europe and Asia with large or emerging injection-driven HIV epidemics—including Ukraine, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and elsewhere—the Russian experience offers important lessons. The continuing expansion of Russia’s epidemic, meanwhile, puts further strain on its demographic and security situations, and directly threatens countries along drug trafficking routes from Central Asia to Europe.
Written by Daniel Wolfe, deputy director of OSI's International Harm Reduction Development Program, "Opportunities Lost: HIV Prevention, Harm Reduction, and the Russian Funding Gap" assesses the fragile state of harm reduction in Russia, calling for an urgent response from international donors and the Russian government to preserve this vital network of HIV prevention programs.