Human Rights, Public Health, and Syringe Access in Russia
"State action that impedes people from protecting themselves from a deadly epidemic is blatant interference with the right of Russians to the highest obtainable standard of health. There is no dispute as to the effectiveness of sterile syringes for preventing HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections. Public health experts are virtually unanimous in the view that providing access to sterile syringes neither encourages drug use nor dissuades drug users from entering drug treatment programs. In reality, the near absence of humane treatment programs for drug addiction in Russia and the very nature of drug use guarantee that there will always be people who either cannot or will not stop using drugs. Impeding this population from obtaining or using sterile syringes amounts to prescribing death as a punishment for illicit drug use."
Human Rights Watch, "Lessons Not Learned: Human Rights Abuses and HIV/AIDS in the Russian Federation," New York, NY: April 2004, Vol. 16, No. 5.