MSF transfers AIDS programme in Russia

MSF has transferred its entire AIDS programme in Russia to the AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW), a new international organisation which was founded by the existing MSF-team in Moscow. The same MSF team started the current Russian AIDS-prevention programme in 1996. MSF's role will be to support the new organisation financially for the next three years. The current expat and national MSF staff have transferred to the AFEW to support the programmes. Country co-ordinator Rian van de Braak: "AIDS is such a massive problem in the former Soviet Union. There is so much to be done on such a large scale that it needs a specialised approach across the width and depth of the whole spectrum. In short, it needs more than MSF can offer." In 1996 there were only 1,000 registered cases of HIV in Russia. By July 2001 this had risen to 140,000, but the actual figures are believed to be ten times higher. The Russian Ministry of Health has forecast that 5 million people will be HIV-positive before 2005. MSF has had substantial successes in Russia over the past five years. The 'harm-reduction programme' targets intravenous drug users, prostitutes and health workers. Street-corner workers provide young drug users with information on the health risks of drugs, including AIDS. Around 200 (medical) professionals from 60 different cities have also been trained in AIDS prevention among intravenous users. The MSF training curriculum has now been adopted by the Medical College. In addition, the street-corner programmes are now available in 35 cities throughout Russia. In addition, MSF has also been working jointly with the Ministry of Justice for two years to improve the desperate health situation in Russian prisons. This year the fourth 'Safe Sex' campaign was launched. AFEW is also taking charge of the solidarity campaign and the harm reduction activities in the Ukraine though MSF will continue to care for and treat AIDS patients there. AFEW will focus on all CIS-countries and will open offices in Moscow, Kiev (Ukraine) and Almaty (Kazachstan). MSF will remain in Moscow to co-ordinate other projects.