In November 2010, SIMONA+, a network of community correspondents, concluded a groundbreaking survey on the availability of antiretroviral drugs in 19 Russian cities. Over the past year, the group has interviewed doctors, nurses, social workers and patients to document alarming supply shortages and frequent supply-chain breakdowns. Patients with HIV/AIDS in 30% of cities surveyed had been denied needed medications due to inadequate supplies or stock outs, and those in more than one-third of cities had to change treatment regimens due to delivery interruptions.
This new study served as a call to activists across Russia to demand the government fulfill its promise to provide comprehensive HIV treatment to all those who need it. Street protests erupted in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and other major cities. Several lawsuits have been brought against local AIDS centers in Moscow, Tula, and Arkhangelsk. And still, the Ministry of Health denies the scope of the problem. Until it takes action, SIMONA+ and its partners will continue to exert pressure on the government through media, legal action and public hearings.