Kremlin claims condoms caused Russian HIV epidemic

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Bil Browning

The Russian government’s tendency to blame everyone else for their own troubles is reminiscent of a three year old repeatedly screaming “NOT ME!” But a report from the Russian Institute for Strategic Research (RISR) that blames condoms and an “information war” by the west for the country’s rapidly rising rate of HIV infections may be a new low.

Tatyana Guzenkova, the institute’s deputy director, gave a report to the Moscow City Duma this week in response to the Federal Center for Fighting AIDS‘ announcement last year that the country was suffering from an HIV epidemic, saying it was a “catastrophe” for the nation.

Guzenkova told lawmakers that there are two styles of fighting HIV – Western and Russian. You can guess which one she blamed for the epidemic.

The Western way to fight HIV is full of “neoliberal ideological content, insensitivity towards national sensitivities and over-focus of certain at-risk groups such as drug addicts and LGBT people,” she said, while the Russian model “takes into account the cultural, historical, and psychological characteristics of the Russian population, and is based on a conservative ideology and traditional values.”

The study’s co-author also took aim at western condom companies, claiming they are somehow culpable in spreading the disease they prevent.

“The contraceptive industry is interested in selling their products and encouraging under-aged people to engage in sex,” Igor Beloborodov said. He said the best way to prevent infection is to “be in a heterosexual family where both partners are loyal to each other.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the standard response from American conservative Christians – one of the groups with the least amount of sex education and the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Hat tip to Joe.My.God who rightly points out that, “Russia now has about one million citizens living with HIV, with 93,000 new cases recorded in 2015. The CDC last fall reported that 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, with 50,000 new infections occurring annually.”

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