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Eastern Europe’s Ostrich Policy on HIV

CARDIFF, CALIFORNIA – Russia and Ukraine account for roughly 90% of the 1.5 million people estimated to be infected with HIV in Central and Eastern Europe. On a recent trip to these countries, and despite repeated requests, no politician or public-health official in either country would meet with me. None returned the phone calls, faxes, or e-mails that I sent after I returned home.

Both countries have epidemics driven by injecting drug users (IDUs) who share needles and syringes, the most efficient way to transmit HIV. Yet proven methods exist to slow the spread of HIV by IDUs.