El director ejecutivo de ONUSIDA, Michel Sidibé, habló sobre la epidemia del VIH entre personas que usan drogas inyectables en Rusia y la necesidad de garantizar el acceso a terapia de sustitución de opioides en Crimea.

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We are not here to talk about past regrets. We are here to shape the future of eastern Europe and central Asia—a future with zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. This region is famous for passionate, people-led revolutions. We need a revolution in HIV prevention now. Combination prevention, including HIV treatment, must be at the centre of our response.

Across the globe, progress against AIDS has been amazing and inspiring. We have broken the trajectory of new HIV infections. Today, we have more than 11 million people on life-saving HIV treatment. Around the world, AIDS mortality is declining. We are making unprecedented progress to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015 and keep their mothers alive.

The data show that the alarming increase in new HIV infections in this region is driven primarily by injecting drug use. Never in the history of the global AIDS epidemic has there been such a large and growing HIV epidemic concentrated within a community facing barriers to essential prevention and treatment services. If governments want to prevent their citizens from getting sick and dying, they must ensure that people who inject drugs are not treated like criminals. They should be treated as people with an illness that needs prevention, treatment, care and support.

On the subject of harm reduction, I am very concerned about the situation in Crimea. As of March 2014, 806 patients were enrolled in a safe and effective substitution therapy programme there. Stopping this treatment violates the patients’ right to health. It will cause health setbacks and put their lives in danger—it will increase their risk of returning to illegal drug use, stopping their treatment for HIV and tuberculosis, and becoming infected with HIV and infecting their partners.

I call on the authorities of Crimea and relevant Russian institutions to ensure that these essential, life-saving services are not interrupted or suspended. This is not a political issue—it is a serious health matter. Their lives are hanging in the balance.

We cannot end the AIDS epidemic without the Russian Federation taking a decisive leadership role here in the Russian Federation, across this region and around the world.

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