At the end of November, Russia’s Health Ministry introduced a bill into the country’s State Duma that would ban HIV denialism. The bill would amend an existing law called “On the Prevention of the Spread of HIV Infections” to forbid the distribution of “inaccurate information about the effect of HIV infection on one’s health.” That information would fall into three possible categories: denying the existence of HIV, denying its relationship with AIDS, and denying the existence of prevention and treatment methods for the virus. HIV denial is not an exclusively Russian phenomenon — supporters of the ideology can be found in Africa and the United States as well — but Russia appears to be the first country with a shot at introducing fines for expressing denialist beliefs and blocking the webpages of deniers themselves. Given that absence of international precedent, it is very difficult to predict the effectiveness and the…

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