Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Letter writing campaign: HIV in Russia

This World Aids Day, SSDP is supporting the International Network of People who Use Drugs'campaign for harm reduction policies to be implemented in Russia.

Russia has about 1.7 million injecting drug users with only 70 needle exchanges. In 2008, UNAIDS estimated that just 7% of injecting drug users had access to these services. Learn more about the situation in Russia here.

We are asking SSDP activists to take the time around World Aids Day to write to the Russian embassy to call for change. There is a model letter below, but feel free to change it if you like. Maybe your chapter could run an Amnesty International style letter writing session? Let us know if you get any interesting replies, by emailing education[at]

Dear Ambassador,

In most of the developed world, HIV/AIDS is successfully fought using a variety of harm-reduction and health-led approaches, as recommended by UNAIDS, the WHO and the UNODC. On average, countries adopting such approaches have HIV rates among 5% amongst injecting drug users.

However, over a third of Russia’s 1.7million injecting drug users are HIV positive, a number which continues to rise through the lack of access clean needles or opioid substitution therapy.

I request that Russia considers the implementation of the following measures:

· Increase the provision of life-saving programmes such as opiod substitution treatment and needle exchange programme

· Provide free access to antiviral therapy for all HIV positive people, including those who inject drugs.

· Cease persecuting Russian activists and organisations that are calling for the introduction of harm reduction programmes and for a drug policies based on scientific evidence and human rights.

· Recognise that people who use drugs must be at the forefront of designing drug policies and programmes.

· Cease criminalising the possession and use of drugs, which is a major barrier for people who inject drugs to access the harm reduction services available.

I trust that you will take action to reduce the harms associated with drug use in Russia.

Believe me, My Dear Ambassador,

Yours sincerely,

[SSDP Chapter or Area]

Send your letters to: His Excellency Alexander Vladimirovich Yakavenko, The Russian Ambassador, 6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8 4QP. Call +44 (0) 20 7229 6412, + 44 (0) 20 7229 7281 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7727 8625. Email:

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