The International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation

 
 

Drug Addiction & HIV Infection

Soars in Russia

Boston Globe, February 27, 1999
(David Filipov)


In the early 1990s Russia reported its population of drug addicts in numbers ranging in the thousands, but today the country has an estimated 3 million drug addicts who support an illegal drug trade worth some $2 billion each year.

Responding to the sudden increase in drug addicts, which includes many young people from
middle-class families, Russia launched an American-style promotional campaign using pop
celebrities to warn about the dangers of drug addiction and passed a law giving police more
power to search people who appear to be using drugs. However, police have failed to keep up
with the drug trade's expansion.

The government said it arrested more than 250,000 people on drug charges in 1998, up from
185,000 in 1997; but one undercover cop said the police are only slightly effective in fighting
the drug trade, in part because of police corruption. Health officials have said the rising number
of drug addicts who use heroin has contributed to the doubling of HIV cases in 1998, to 10,483
cases. In fact, 90% of new HIV cases are attributed to people who use dirty needles.



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