Russia says US Afghan policy stokes AIDS problem

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The United States is aggravating the HIV/AIDS problem in Russia and the West by refusing to use its forces to destroy opium crops in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday. Lavrov made Russia’s persistent case for poppy crop eradication by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan at a conference on communicable diseases in the eastern Europe and Central Asia region, where AIDS is a growing problem.
“It is hard for us to understand why our American partners don’t want the International Security Assistance Force to do this,” he said. “This issue is crucial to the fight against the drug threat and, consequently, the spread of HIV/AIDS.” Afghanistan is the world’s biggest producer of poppies used to make opium, the key ingredient in the production of heroin. Russia is the largest per capita consumer of the drug and faces an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is spreading from dirty needles.
“The tragedy of the situation lies in the fact that in Europe, young people … are getting this disease because of the spread of drugs,” Lavrov said, adding that “we must fight not only the use but also the spread of drugs.”

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