No Opiate Substitutes For the Masses of IDUs

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Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 165-167
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5988.165

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Ukraine, Russia, and other countries in the former Soviet Union have HIV/AIDS epidemics driven by injecting drug users that are increasingly spreading into the broader population through sex, yet harm reduction, an international movement that promotes treatment rather than arrest and incarceration of IDUs, remains spotty throughout the region. Even the Ukrainian government, which only recently legalized the opiate substitution drug methadone, has not fully embraced harm reduction, which is largely delivered by nongovernmental organizations that receive support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In comparison, the Russian Federation seems outright hostile toward harm reduction, to the outrage of researchers, public-health specialists, and activists. The banning of opiate-substitution treatment has evoked the sharpest criticism.