During the early 1990s, the breakup of the Soviet Union and Russian economic collapse brought about economic and social disarray in the region. Suddenly, inexpensive, low-quality heroin from Afghanistan created new drug markets, and its use, almost always by injection, was taken up by a large proportion of adolescents and young adults. As effective drug treatment programs are generally unavailable in Russia and drug substitution therapy (such as methadone) is prohibited, those who become addicted generally continue injecting heroin. Although syringes are legally available, access to clean syringes is limited, thus needle sharing has historically been common among people injecting drugs. These factors have led to the prevalence of HIV and hepatitis among injectors in some Russian and other post-Soviet cities to reach levels among the highest in the world, with alarmingly high incidence of new infections. A research team in EMD headed by Professor Robert Heimer works in close collaboration with colleagues from academic, governmental and non-governmental organizations in host countries in the region to study the epidemiology, sociology, and biology of blood-borne pathogens in this population. The team takes into consideration injectors and their drug and sexual networks and other drug-related health aspects of the syndemic such as overdose and incarceration to address public policy around matters such as the treatment of drug addiction and HIV infection.
Alcohol and HIV Risk Reduction in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, Nadia Abdala, D.V.M, PhD.
Developing an Evaluation Platform for UNFRA's Y-PEER Projects, Robert Heimer, Ph.D.
Influences on HIV Prevalence and Service Access among IDUs in Russia and Estonia, Robert Heimer, Ph.D.
International Feasibility Study of Pharmacy-Based HIV Prevention: St. Petersburg, Robert Heimer, Ph.D.
Potential for HIV Transmisison in Relationships of Drug-using Women in Russia, Linda Niccolai, Ph.D.
TB-AIDS Clinical Training and Research Unit, Russia, Robert Heimer, Ph.D.
Training and Research in HIV Prevention in Russia, Robert Dubrow, M.D., Ph.D.
YSPH faculty with scientists who are here from St. Petersburg to study HIV/AIDS as part of a Fogarty Training Grant. This program, established in 1998, develops talent among behavioral and medical scientists to participate in interdisciplinary HIV research. Front row, left to right: Rashad Abyshev, Anton Pashchenko. Back row, left to right: Stanislav Toropov, Marina Vetrova, Olga Alexandrova, Ted White, Linda Niccolai, Robert Heimer.