AIDS experts urged Russian officials on Nov. 4 to scrap their abstinence-based strategy for curbing the spread of HIV, saying the country's fast-growing epidemic could be entering a dangerous new phase. The number of HIV infections in Russia has doubled in the past eight years and there is evidence that in this region the virus is increasingly being spread by heterosexual sex. Russia must legalize methadone to stop an AIDS epidemic from spreading, with at least one million Russians infected with HIV, experts warned. The rise in cases is mainly driven by drug users - who account for up to 80 percent of the cases - injecting heroin from nearby Afghanistan. Methadone, which is administered orally and widely used to treat opiate addiction, is illegal in Russia. (AP, Reuters)

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