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At least 80 people have died in Crimea since Russian law banned opioid substitutes, says UN special envoy

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h390 (Published 22 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h390
  1. Richard Hurley
  1. 1The BMJ

Between 80 and 100 people who relied on opioid substitution for drug dependency treatment have died since May 2014, when authorities in Crimea suddenly closed all 11 treatment programmes, the United Nations’ special envoy for HIV and AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has said.

Some 800 people had been caused “intense and unnecessary suffering,” with “severe withdrawal symptoms,” Michel Kazatchkine told journalists in a telephone briefing from Geneva on 20 January. More than 40% of the 806 people who had been enrolled in substitution treatment programmes in Crimea had tested positive for HIV, he said, and “the vast majority, if not all” had returned to injecting illicit drugs. This practice is the primary driver of the high prevalence of HIV infection in Ukraine and Russia.1 2

Six weeks at …

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