Briefing Paper: Drug Policy and the HIV Pandemic in Russia and Ukraine

Over the past three years Russia and Ukraine have experienced one of the fastest growing HIV pandemics in Europe. In contrast to other parts of the world, the main driver behind the rate of infection is injecting drug use. Recent government policies have placed a heavy emphasis on reducing availability and on harsh punishments for drug users. This approach has not succeeded in significantly reducing the level of drug use. It has pushed the drug scene underground and increased risky behaviours among vulnerable groups. In the absence of measures to reduce infections and reverse the rate of transmission, the long-term impact of HIV/AIDS on population growth and economic development is likely to be grave.