‘Condoms can’t protect you from HIV,” says Vladislav Ivanov, a 34-year-old hotel worker from Rostov-on-Don. He is one of an estimated 1.5 million people in Russia living with HIV. And because he is not receiving treatment, he is at a high risk of passing on the virus. Does this worry him? “Yes, but I still don’t wear condoms because I don’t like them. Most people in Russia think condoms can’t protect you from HIV. People think of them only in terms of contraception.” Ivanov’s story is chilling. Diagnosed HIV positive in March, he says he was calm when he heard the news as he was not convinced HIV existed. Because of this, he had had unprotected sex with a man who had told him he was HIV positive. “I didn’t worry about it because I’d seen a TV programme that denied the existence of HIV.
December 2 / The Guardian