t's 5am: rush hour for some of Moscow's junkies. "I've almost no veins left," says Roma, a former dancer and choreographer. Natasha was a classical violinist. She started using after a beating by police. The UN estimates 2 ½ million Russians use drugs intravenously, and as a result, the AIDS rate has doubled in the past year. The authorities are doing little to help or warn addicts of the dangers. Moscow's Mayor refuses even to allow outreach workers to distribute clean needles. But drug addiction doesn't just affect the poor. Simon lies in one of the city's few rehab clinics. His successful factories support his 5g a day heroin habit. "I'd shoot up and go to the casino..." Marcia was training to be an Olympic gymnast. "Imagine there was 1g of cocaine for each person. Imagine the state you were in the next morning. What can get you out of that state? Only heroin". Natasha says needle sharing is rife, even if you know the user is infected with Hepatitis. Most of her friends already have AIDS. The entire federal budget for AIDS is less than US$6 million. It's left to charities and the church to fill the gap. Father Anatoly Berestov blames Russia's epidemic of addiction on the moral void left by the collapse of the Soviet Union. He's fighting it with spirituality, not helped, he says, by corrupt police who extort bribes from addicts. If Russia doesn't wake up to its drugs/AIDS problem soon, rates of infection could reach those of Africa.
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