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While the Russian government looks away, AIDS spreads quickly

Posted on August 31, 2017

Source: PRI

While the Russian government looks away, AIDS spreads quickly

"At an AIDS clinic in a trendy part of Moscow, bucking taboos about HIV and AIDS is an everyday part of the job.

Dozens of young men and women with HIV gathered recently to celebrate the anniversary of the clinic that tries to set itself apart from all the others: It gives people a place to speak openly about their health conditions and receive psychological help and medical consultations. Dr. Yelena Orlova-Morozova, one of Moscow’s leading HIV doctors for the region's state clinic, helped found this new nongovernmental organization, called AIDS.Center. The period in the name is intentional — meant to signify a difference from other clinics around Russia that are often simply called AIDS Centers.

AIDS.Center has only been open a year, which speaks to Russia's slow response to its worsening HIV crisis. AIDS has plagued Russians for decades, but stigma around the disease has been heightened by a government that prefers to pretend it doesn't exist, activists say. Orlova-Morozova opened AIDS.Center as a way to fight the disease.

'Ignorance and poor state policy cause the epidemic’s growth,' she says, her eyes serious behind black frames. 'I don’t think we’d be able to control the developing epidemic anytime soon, as people do not want to be educated about AIDS.'

The words on the wall above the doctor’s head convey the key issue in Russia’s failing struggle against AIDS: 'Ignorance = Fear.' Russia’s AIDS experts have been left frustrated by the central government's inaction."

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