The Russian Federation
The Russian Republic either doesn’t track or doesn’t publish reliable figures for HIV among its 144,300,000 inhabitants. Thus, all the figures here must be estimates, and those vary widely.
Russia has the largest HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with ca. 1,500,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV)—the majority of all European HIV cases. It is the world’s only region where HIV infections are rising, up by 149% since 2006. It had 98,200 new cases in 2015, and largely accounts for the total increase of European cases. 37% of adult people living with HIV (PLHIV) are getting Antiretroviral therapy (ART).
People who inject drugs (PWID) account for 58% of HIV transmission. Other key populations include sex workers, prisoners and men who have sex with men (MSM). However, the rate from heterosexual sex is rising, so the epidemic may be shifting into a larger population. Women account for more than 38% of new cases, and rising.
HIV and men who have sex with men (MSM) are widely stigmatized in Russia, and punitive laws discourage people from seeking out necessary services.
(Estimates from AVERT, 2016)
When the epidemic in Russia began in the late 1980s, drug users made up the biggest group of HIV-infections at more than 60%. AVERT estimates drug users still make up the majority of new infections, at 54%. Other high-risk groups are gay men and sex workers. Fear is that today the virus is increasingly spreading outside theses high risk groups.
A rocky past, a promising future!
Alyona and Dmitry are special. Their first date was in prison.
Both are infected with HIV. Both are not afraid to talk about it. But most important: both decided that their best years are still to come. On a cold, foggy day, early November, they talk about the demons of their past and their dreams for the future.
Alyona, Dmitry, Saveliy and Varya:
a happy family