By Alex Campbell

Russia is in the throes of an HIV/AIDS epidemic with 100,000 new cases recorded every year — one of the highest rates of new infections in the world — and fewer than half of those diagnosed even receive treatment.

The incurable virus is in retreat in much of the world, but cases in Russia account for 80 percent of new cases in Europe and Central Asia.The Russian Federal Aids Center told VICE News that the outbreak is now carrying the virus from intravenous drug users and other high risk groups to the general population.

Health experts blame a social and political reluctance to support sex education and drug substitution programs, as well as authorities for refusing to acknowledge the problem — or fund fast, effective treatments.

“There is no political will to face the truth,” said Maksim Malyshev, who distributes clean syringes to drug users with the government-blacklisted Rylkov Foundation. “Instead of writing reports saying that we are working on it and that everything is going as planned, they need to admit that things are bad — really bad.”