Conspiracy Theories Denying the Existence of HIV Are Harming Russia’s LGBTQ Community
Around the world, HIV rates are dropping. That is, except in one area — Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Russia has the largest HIV epidemic in that area, and that’s due to a simple cause: The Russia HIV hoax idea is causing Russians to die at a high rate.
The deadly cost of the Russia HIV hoax
HIV rates in Russia have risen by 149% since 2006, and Russian HIV cases account for eight of ten new HIV infections in the area. Official figures say 80 Russian poeple died every day of AIDS-related issues during the first six months of 2017. In 2016, only 50 people died each day, still way too many. According to the Russian government, there are 10 new cases of HIV every hour.
But if you look on Russian websites, chat groups and message boards, you’ll find people saying HIV is a hoax from the West. Some people believe that HIV and AIDS are intended to control the Russian population. Russians believe HIV is a disease contracted only by “druggies” and “American gays.”
Despite these beliefs, 50% of new HIV cases are actually from heterosexual contact. And the reason why the Russia HIV hoax idea has come into the limelight is due to a string of child deaths.
In November, a regional court in Parm, located in western Siberia, sentenced a mother to 18 months of house arrest for withholding HIV treatment from her eight-year-old son. In another Siberian city, the city of Tyumen, a case involving the death of a two-year-old girl who was denied HIV treatment is before the courts now.
The Independent tells the story of another mother who lost her child because she didn’t believe that he needed treatment:
“They said that if I don’t give my son the therapy, he’d die over the New Year holidays. Of course, I didn’t give him anything,” wrote Sofia Kuzmina on March 20, 2013. Seven months pass, and she writes again. “Now he isn’t smiling, he isn’t sitting in his buggy. They killed my son. He’s like a phoenix. Damn you, AIDS!” The boy died just before his fourth birthday.
The Independent also ties over 70 deaths in the last three years to HIV denialism.
Some prominent Americans believe in HIV denialism too
Of course, Russia isn’t the only place in the world where HIV denialism exists. In fact, in 2000, the rock band Foo Fighters were taken in. Bassist Nate Mendel organized a benefit concert in Hollywood for the denialist group Alive and Well. They even had a page on their website as late as 2002 endorsing Alive and Well’s (absurd) claims. An ACT UP chapter in San Francisco also denies HIV’s existence.
But as we can see in Russia, HIV denialism kills. Don’t fall for the lies.
Featured image by gevende via iStock