Russian Language AIDS Health Manual for Prison Doctors ‘Detached From Reality,’ Russian Health Official Says
Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Russian Health Ministry's AIDS Prevention and Treatment Center, yesterday at a press conference announced the release of a Russian language manual designed for prison doctors who treat HIV-positive inmates in the country's prisons, the Los Angeles Times reports. Russia has reported 235,000 HIV/AIDS cases, but the actual number of cases could be between 700,000 and 1.5 million, including 37,000 prison inmates, Pokrovsky said. The disease spreads rapidly among the prison population and is transmitted to the general population once inmates are released (Holley, Los Angeles Times, 4/18). The government plans to distribute to the country's prisons 8,000 copies of the manual, which was produced by the World Health Organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Penal Reform International and the Moscow-based AIDS Foundation East-West. The manual offers advice on HIV prevention methods, including the distribution of condoms, the use of sterilized needles and strategies for disinfecting needles, as well as the use of professional medical staff to administer tattoos (Agence France-Presse, 4/17). However, Pokrovsky said that the book only portrays "nice ideals" and is "detached from reality," adding that it "doesn't take into account the real situation. The financial situation today does not allow the implementation of these ideas into Russian reality." The news conference included an "all-star cast of international health organizations," none of which were able to offer any evidence that the measures recommended in the manual would be acted upon, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 4/18). A kaisernetwork.org Issue Spotlight on AIDS in Russia is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.