Do migrants bring HIV and Tuberculosis to Russia?

“Such Cases” and Civic Assistance Committee continue to dismantle the myths about migrants. Anthropologist Daniel Kashnitsky talks about the prejudice that newcomers bring contagious diseases to Russia, and how Russian legislation reinforces the fear of those migrants who are really sick.

“Such Cases” and Civic Assistance Committee continue to dismantle the myths about migrants. Anthropologist Daniel Kashnitsky talks about the prejudice that newcomers bring contagious diseases to Russia, and how Russian legislation reinforces the fear of those migrants who are really sick.

According to Law No. 38 “On the Prevention of the Spread in the Russian Federation of the Disease Caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus”, there is a practice to deport foreigners with HIV infection. In practice, it is extremely difficult to carry out the deportation. Firstly, it is not easy to find a person after the deportation order is issued, and secondly, the deportation procedure itself is extremely expensive.

From 2011 to 2015, 13,594 such orders were issued. 45% were due to tuberculosis cases, 38% were due to HIV infection, and another 17% were to other sexually transmitted infections.

Unlike HIV, which is a lifelong chronic disease, tuberculosis can be completely cured. A foreign migrant who has recovered from tuberculosis must present a certificate to the migration service of Russia that show that he is healthy, and then he will again receive permission to enter. However, there should be a common approach to the prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis. Now, foreigners who are sick with HIV or tuberculosis, fearing deportation, simply go into the shadows. As a result, Russia does not have accurate data on the number and location of those who are sick.

Thus, the existence of a deportation rule, firstly, does not work, and secondly, violates the basic rights of migrants to health and safety. Migrants with HIV remain without vital antiretroviral therapy.

If we talk about numbers, in Russia the incidence of HIV in 2017 was 0.7 cases per 100 thousand people, which is several times higher than in neighboring countries which are sources of labor migration (for comparison, in Uzbekistan it is 0.12 cases per 100 thousand people, in Ukraine – 0.38, in Tajikistan – 0.15, Kyrgyzstan – 0.13).

And according to the data of the Federal Scientific-Medical Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS, the number of examined foreigners is increasing annually in Russia and the number of detected HIV cases is decreasing. So, in 2012, a little less than 2 million people were examined, and 200 new cases of infection were detected per 100 thousand of those examined. In 2017, 2.5 million people were examined and 100 new cases were identified per 100 thousand examined.
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For over 30 years, Committee of Civic Assistance has been helping migrants who find themselves in difficult situations. At the end of 2011, human rights defenders launched the Hate Crimes project where the organization provides free legal and humanitarian assistance to victims of violent hate crimes.