Russia’s policies blamed for growing HIV epidemic

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Vladimir Putin’s government policies have been blamed for contributing to the spread of HIV in Russia.

HIV/AIDS is a growing threat in Russia in recent years, with a near-doubling of people who have been diagnosed with HIV from around 500,000 in 2010 to 930,000 people.

Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Russian AIDS centre, spoke to AFP, warning the state’s approach to issues surrounding sex had exacerbated the problem.

He said: “The last five years of the conservative approach have led to the doubling of the number of HIV-infected people.

“It has not justified itself.”

HIV prevalence stands at one percent in Russia – growing to as much as three percent in cities such as Tolyatti.

Heterosexual sex is now believed to be responsible for the majority of transmissions, having spread from the country’s gay community.

Mr Pokrovsky cited Germany as the model approach for Russia – with a more liberal view of condom use and sex education cutting transmission rates rapidly.

He added: “It’s a serious cause of death for Russians, young Russians. This is an infection that affects people aged 25-35.”

The Kremlin has pursued a number of increasingly anti-gay policies in recent years, following the introduction of Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay law in 2013.

A Russian MP recently claimed that Apple gave away a free U2 album as “gay propaganda”.

Alexander Starovoitov, a member of the LDPR party, claimed: ”I, like many Russian citizens, own an iPhone.

“In 2014, the band U2 forced my phone to download their new album. Their cover album depicts two men, which in my view, depicts the expression of a non-traditional sexual relationship to each other.”