HIV-positive people concerned at shortage of medicines

Twenty regions of Russia are experiencing a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs, according to HIV positive sources in Nizhny Novgorod, St Petersburg and other cities at a press conference on the provision of drugs for HIV positive patients in Russia.


Statistics provided by the Foundation for Health in Russia show that in 2010 fewer than 62,000 patients out of 120,000 in need received full treatment with anti-retrovirals.  Legal proceedings in connection with this are already under way in Kazan, Moscow, and Tula. According to the website, which records provision of and access to anti-retrovirals, shortages were recorded this year in Moscow, St Petersburg, Tula, Ulyanovsk, Samara, Archangelsk, Vladimir, Kaliningrad, Saratov, and other cities. In addition, in virtually all regions of Russia, there are known to be shortages in prisons and detention centres.


Progress in provision of anti-retrovirals has been steady over the past 4 years. Government statistics indicate that more than half a million people in Russia are HIV positive. They depend on anti-retroviral drugs. When their treatment is interrupted the virus can mutate and develops resistance to the drugs, which renders treatment less effective and much more expensive.


However, the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has not admitted that there is a shortage of drugs. HIV sufferers have proposed that a reserve supply of the drugs be created, and that proper planning be undertaken for the purchase of drugs and treatment, based on recording of known sufferers, and to have continued international support for prevention and treatment programmes in Russia. They also suggest better provision of anti-retroviral drugs to drug users and people on low incomes, and the inclusion of psychologists and social workers in commissions making decisions on anti-retroviral therapy.  According to HIV sufferer Aleksandra Volgina from St Petersburg, HIV sufferers are faced with a choice: to die in silence at home, or draw the attention of society to the problem. They have chosen the second option and are planning a series of actions. One has already been held in Red Square.  Immediately after the press conference the activists went to the Ministry of Health building. However, their protest was blocked by the militia.

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