One in Five Gays in Three Major Cities of Russia is Living With HIV

News25 January 2019
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In addition to that the country has one of the highest rates of spread of HIV in the world. And the lack of appropriate measures to stop HIV transmission among men who have sex with men plays a significant role in that, experts believe.

HIV rate among MSM in three major cities in Russia – Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg – ranges from 7% to 23%, which means one out of five or ten gays is living with HIV depending on whether you take a positive or a negative view of the situation in this case.

These figures are found in the latest Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM) report published on its website and titled “Position Paper on Male Health Concerning the Situation With the Spread of HIV Among Gays, Other MSM and Transgender People in Russia”. According to it, the estimated number of MSM and trans people in the Russian Federation is about 2% of all adult male population and counts up to 230 thousand people.

In the opinion of international experts, despite the HIV epidemic (there are about one million HIV positive people in the country) activity of all HIV service NGOs and LGBT organizations dealing with the problem is considerably restricted by Russian laws. Among them are “gay propaganda” and “foreign agents” laws, which are used by the authorities to shut down undesirable organizations and as an excuse to block their websites.

The report emphasizes that prevention programs for gays and MSM in Russia hardly receive enough funding from the government at the moment. And to make matters worse, as late as 2010 major international donors like the Global Fund and USAID/PEPFAR that could have accepted a part of this responsibility stopped working in the country.

Just a few international organizations work in Russia at present, including UNAIDS, the World Health Organization and several other agencies and UN programs. It is only the Elton John Foundation that has strengthened its presence here over the past three years, allocating a large amount of money to finance HIV prevention in the regions.

Given all this, ECOM is seriously concerned about the high rate of spread of HIV among Russian MSM and trans people and urges to support Russian LGBT communities dealing with sexual health of this key group.

ECOM is an international non-governmental association located in Tallinn, Estonia, which consolidates NGOs and individual activists working in the field of HIV prevention and treatment to support MSM and transgender people in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). Currently, the network joins 53 members from 14 countries, ranging from Latvia to Kyrgyzstan.

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