Last year, Vadim Pokrovsky, Russia's top AIDS expert and head of the Moscow-based Federal AIDS Center, announced that Russia was experiencing an HIV/AIDS epidemic so severe that some 2 million people would likely be infected by 2020.
But never fear! Kremlin-backed experts at the Russian Institute for Strategic Research claim they have discovered the cause of the crisis: condoms.
Yes, condoms - the one preventative measure that can actually stop the spread of the deadly HIV virus, which is sexually transmitted and causes AIDS.
The Kommersant newspaper reported Tuesday that the research institute announced their new findings at a special session of the Moscow City Duma, where RISR Deputy Director Tatyana Guzenkova said the HIV epidemic is nothing more than a Western "information war" against Russia.
Igor Beloborodov, who co-wrote the institute's report, said that "the contraceptive industry is interested in selling their products and encouraging under-aged people to engage in sex." He argued that it can cause an uptick in HIV because the best form of protection against the virus is not condoms but to "be in a heterosexual family where both partners are loyal to each other."
According to the Kommersant, Guzenkova then said the Western version of the HIV/AIDS fight relies on "neoliberal ideological content, insensitivity towards national sensitivities and over-focus of certain at-risk groups such as drug addicts and LGBT people." Her description of the Russian fight? It's "based on a conservative ideology and traditional values."
According to Pokrovsky, that approach is exactly the root of the problem. "The last five years of the conservative approach have led to the doubling of the number of HIV-infected people," he told Agence France-Presse last year.
In 2015, another 93,000 Russians were diagnosed with HIV. Maybe this year the government could try banning condoms. I'm sure that will do the trick.