Most Part of Six Billion Rubles Allocated for HIV Prevention in 2017 Was Wasted

News3 December 2018

Regional budgets spent six billion Rubles on HIV prevention in 2017. However, field-specific HIV-service NGOs received just a small proportion of it.

This was reported by Tatyana Evlampyeva, Deputy Head of the inter-agency cooperation projects department of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, at the IV All-Russian Forum for Specialists on Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS that took place in Moscow on 27 November 2018.

Administrative obstacles and failure of procedures prescribed by the Russian procurement law (Federal Law No. 44-FZ) was the reason for that. According to Evlampyeva, only 0.4% out of the total amount of money regional budgets give for HIV prevention is aimed at the area of healthcare, and that’s where social NGOs have priority over commercial advertising companies that take most part of all contracts.

To her mind, presidential grants or open competitions for federal subsidy, that the regions receive, could be an alternative way to allocate public funds among prevention programs. But generally projects connected with different types of sexual behavior and key groups support are at a great disadvantage when it comes to picking up applications by experts biased against them.

At the same time the Director of the AIDS.CENTER Foundation Anton Krasovsky’s report at the same forum was focused on contents of prevention programs the Russian government spends its money on.

Krasovsky pointed out that the estimated number of people living with HIV in Russia (about one and a half million people) in relation to overall population is ten times higher than in the western countries approaching that of sub-Saharan African countries.

And the reason for that is the lack of efficient methods to prevent the epidemic that have been utilized in the developed countries for many decades. First of all the government tends to underfund such programs as anonymous rapid HIV testing, key groups outreach (MSM, sex workers, injecting drug users).

If the government wants to stop the epidemic in Russia, it is not “marital fidelity” campaigns they should promote but HIV testing; they’d be better financing the distribution of condoms and implementing harm reduction programs, replacement therapy, in the first place, he believes.

This fall not only many HIV-service NGOs expressed the same view that public funds should be allocated in a more reasonable way but also the Russian Ministry of Health chief external expert in HIV diagnosis and treatment Evgeny Voronin, who didn’t hesitate to criticize regular orders for posters and billboards under the pretext of HIV prevention.

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