[Marxism] Moscow City Duma Decides to Fight Russia's HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Thomas Campbell avvakum at gmail.com
Thu Jun 2 00:04:16 MDT 2016

Nothing Russian about AIDS
Moscow City Duma Proposes Fighting HIV Epidemic with Heterosexual
Monogamous Family
Alexander Chernykh
May 31, 2016

Yesterday [May 30, 2016], the Moscow City Duma discussed the spread of HIV
in Moscow. Virtually no physicians spoke at the hearing. Instead, the
deputies chatted with experts from the Russian Institute for Strategic
Research (RISS), who told the MPs that HIV was part of the west’s
information war against Russia and that, rather than preventing HIV,
condoms were, on the contrary, an indirect cause of the epidemic. The
deputies were thus led to conclude it was not HIV that needed to be
combated, but the populace’s moral laxity.

Lyudmila Stebenkova, chair of the Moscow City Duma’s health care committee,
opened the hearing. She reminded the MPs that, a year ago, they had
discussed HIV “because there had been all sorts of insinuations in the
press that we, allegedly, had a huge number of HIV-infected people.”

In May of last year, Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal AIDS Center, said
that Russia had an HIV epidemic and called the situation a “national

It was then Moscow MPs asked to verify the data and ordered a
“well-grounded report on HIV infections.” To prepare the report, Moscow
authorities turned not to doctors but to RISS, a government think thank
founded by presidential decree in 1992. According to RISS’s website, the
institute deals with “issues of national security provision” and “prevents
the falsification of history.”

As Stebenkova explained, “Previously, they produced a stunning report on
various NGOs funded by the west.”

RISS took nearly a year to produce the report. Yesterday, the institute’s
deputy director, [Tamara] Guzenkova, presented it to Moscow MPs. According
to RISS’s website, Ms. Guzenkova has nothing to do with medicine. She has a
doctoral degree in history. In her publications, she has criticized the new
Ukrainian authorities and spoken out on the “EU’s decline.”

She approached HIV from a familiar angle, arguing that “the problem of
HIV/AIDS has been employed as part of the information war against Russia.”

In its report, RISS claims there are two models for fighting HIV. The
western model includes “neoliberal ideological content, insensitivity to
national idiosyncrasies, and the total priority given to high-risk groups
such as drug addicts and LGBT.”

In turn, the Moscow model “takes into account the cultural, historical, and
psychological idiosyncrasies of the Russian populace, and is based on a
conservative ideology and traditional values.”

According to Ms. Guzenkova, when the international community proposes that
Russia should employ western approaches to fighting the disease, it turns
the epidemic into a “political issue” by “opposing Russia as country that
permits itself to pursue an independent foreign and domestic policy.”

RISS’s deputy head Oksana Petrovskaya, who also has a doctoral degree in
history and is a specialist on the history of the southern and western
Slavs, continued comparing the two concepts. The institute’s website
features her articles on the “fate of Russian cemeteries abroad” and the
“identity crisis in Poland.”

Ms. Petrovskaya explained that Moscow was doing a better job of fighting
HIV than Saint Petersburg, and then offered her own explanation why this
was the case.

“The reasons are not only geographical and regional but also have to do
with a focus on traditional values,” she said. “We can regard Moscow as a
symbol of native Russian values, and Saint Petersburg as a symbol of
Western European cultural values.”

RISS’s report is even more specific on this point.

“The earthy primordiality of the spontaneously emergent holy lands of
Moscow is opposed to artificially and rationally organized Petersburg, the
main component of whose myth has been the apocalyptics of the doomed city.
Formed in the wake of perestroika, the counterculture of Petersburgers is
based on a conception of personal freedom as freedom from contradiction.”

The report’s third co-author, Igor Beloborodov, a Ph.D. in sociology, heads
RISS’s department of demographics, migration, and ethnic and religious
issues. He listed the sources of HIV transmission.

“It is the contraceptive industry, which has a stake in pushing their
products and, thus, in getting as many juveniles as possible to engage in
early sex. The pornography industry: despite all our laws, you can get all
the stuff you want in two clicks.”

Mr. Beloborodov also roundly criticized the sex products industry, dubbing
them “lobbyists who have a direct stake in perverting the populace.”

He even argued the idea of sexual education for children had been imposed
by the west in order to “demographically deter countries regarded as
geopolitical competitors.”

But Mr. Beloborodov nevertheless believes condoms are the main enemy. He
recounted his conversation with Spanish [epidemiologist] Jokin de Irala.

“He argues that contraceptives eliminate the self-preserving role of
personal behavior. And that five [sexual] contacts involving a condom
during adolescence are the equivalent of one unprotected contact.”

“Either way, no one has come up with a better means of preventing sexually
transmitted diseases and, in particular, AIDs, than the monogamous
family—the heterosexual monogamous family, I should underscore—who are
faithful to one another,” said Mr. Beloborodov. “And I hope no one will
ever come up with anything better.”

It is worth noting that Mr. Beloborodov rather loosely recounted the stance
taken by Professor de Irala. In interviews and articles, the epidemiologist
has said that abstinence alone does not help, and he promotes the concept
of “abstinence and condoms.”

MP Stebenkova stressed she was not opposed to condoms as a means of
preventing pregnancy, but did not believe in their efficacy against HIV.
She recounted how she had recently been told the story of a young woman who
had protected sex and yet had still tested positive for HIV.

“The risk is still reduced,” Alexei Mazus, head of the Moscow AIDS Center,
who attended the hearing, suddenly noted.

“But condoms do not provide total protection,” the MP snapped back.

Mazus did not bother to object.

In summary, Stebenkova told the audience that “this report will play a very
large role in further action.”

“In the long run, it is not AIDS we must fight, but drugs and promiscuity,”
she said.

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