1 million Russians are HIV-positive, but only a third get treatment


William Brangham:

Chebin says, because no money changes hands, this is legal, but he still plays it safe, hiding medications in different places, like here in his couch.

Using a network of couriers, Chebin packs up and sends medicine anywhere in the country to patients who need them, all for free. This woman 1,300 hundred miles away in St. Petersburg is part of that network.

Russia has had repeated problems with so-called stock-outs, where different regions run short on these crucial HIV medications. This group is here to help fill the gap.

Keeping people on steady HIV medication is crucial, because people on treatment are much less likely to transmit the virus to others. But the fact that only a third of HIV-positive Russians are on treatment contributes to the 100,000 new infections that occur here every year.

President Putin’s government has been criticized for not forcefully addressing the crisis, but, in 2016, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed Russia’s strategic plan against HIV, which hopes to get many more people tested and treated in coming years.



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