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Eastern European Illicit Drug Producers Using Blood to Test Their Product, Spreading HIV, Says U.N.


January 1998

U.N. experts say that one reason that the AIDS epidemic may be spreading rapidly in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is that some producers of illegal drugs have been putting blood into drugs to test their quality (Stephanie Nebehay, "New drug method in Russia may be behind AIDS spread," Reuters, November 27, 1997).

Dr. Bernhard Schwartlaender, senior epidemiologist at the Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) described the process, saying, "What happens is that because of very limited resources to produce the drugs there, sometimes they test the quality of the drugs by putting in blood. It is a very simple test. If the blood doesn't go bad basically, then you can use the drug. If there are too many acids in there, the blood would coagulate and then you couldn't use or sell it." At a news conference, Schwartlaender said, "[This] epidemic in Eastern Europe is very recent and hits an area in the world that is not well prepared to monitor the problem or cope with it."

Dr. Bernhard Schwartlaender - UNAIDS, 20 Ave. Appia CH - 1211, Geneva 22, Switzerland, RM M633, Tel: 41-22-791-4705, E-mail:, Web: