The Moscow Government’s opposition to Needle and Syringe Programs backlashed with the epidemic of HIV and AIDS. There is not a unified drug addiction rehabilitation system in Russia. The state facilities are usually full, so addicts must find institutions, and religious organizations, that are mostly not qualified to deal with the problems of drug addiction or substance abuse. Anya Sarang, President of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice in Moscow, knows the damage done in her country with such an extreme approach. “We now experience a health crisis,” she says. While majority of Russians still view drug abusers as criminals, the science is showing they could have become mentally ill and are in need of help. With the crisis at hand Moscow Social Services, signed contracts with OPORA (the Russian word for ‘support’) a Moscow-based non-governmental organization. OPORA was contracted to train a team of professionals from each of the Moscow Districts, with a point to begin programs to reduce high risk behaviors in youth, also providing District Coordinators. OPORA was appointed to the committee that studies prevention efforts and programs in Moscow. While others like the A.R.F. offers harm reduction services for drug users in Moscow. Russia and its citizens are facing one of its largest challenges and it is raising new debates on human rights in the country.
Substitution treatments plus needle and syringe programs are supported by most of the scientific studies and are supported by the World Health Organization and other UN agencies as the best tools to stop the HIV crisis. Rapidly it has turned to a human rights discussion with the substance and drug abusers. Some are starting to view the abusers and addicts as needing help, rather than the governments strictly enforced policies and laws that make addicts out to be criminals. Responses in Moscow have become mainly a thing for local communities and non-profits, with help from large organizations and networks outside of Russia. The necessity for new guidelines with drug policies and on human rights cannot be understated, that is alone the greatest tool available against the HIV and AIDS epidemic happening across the country. Also utilizing education and opportunity for youth, and all those interested in advancing beyond barriers of the harmful tendencies drug and substance abuse brings those affected. All the volunteers, the substance and drug abuse survivors, and all the donations to non-profits and charities, it appears are the best hopes for a change in a struggling Moscow.
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