Why has Russia started a registry of HIV-positive people?

Maxim Shipenkov, AP

The latest move by Vladimir Putin signalling possible discrimination against marginalized Russians is a new registry of people with HIV, a list that analysts worry could be used to discriminate or isolate people who are infected with the virus.

Begun on New Year’s Day, the Federal Register of HIV patients aims to help ensure patients receive antiviral medication efficiently and to provide standardize data on the epidemic, according to Health Ministry Spokesman Oleg Salagai, who spoke to Tass,

A proposal to make registration compulsory was reportedly rejected by both the Justice Ministry and the Health Ministry.

Russia’s rate of HIV infection is higher than any nation in Europe, and among the highest in the world. But it is intravenous drug users who are the main means of infection. Heterosexual couples are expected to soon overtake IV drug users. But the stigma of HIV has been the source of discrimination and oppression of LGBTQ people around the world.

According to the Russian Health ministry, the registry already logged 824,000 people out of an estimated 850,000 patients in just four days. According to NewNowNext, AIDS activists claim there may be at least another 500,000 undiagnosed cases.

“The first and most important task is to assess and collect full information on how many HIV patients we have, what treatment plans have been arranged for them, what medicines have been prescribed to them,” said Deputy Health Minister Sergei Krayevoi.

As 2016 drew to a close, the number of people in Russia who are HIV-positive surpassed one million.

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