Georgia is getting ready to end the AIDS epidemic

Author: Irma Kakhurashvili, Georgia

The Director of the Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research and Development Centre Tengiz Tsertsvadze estimates that number of people with HIV/AIDS in 2017 in Georgia was as high as 12,000

The UNAIDS 90-90-90 target, stipulating that 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression, was the key issue brought up at the National Conference dedicated to the World AIDS Day in Tbilisi. The conference was organized by the Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research and Development Centre and the Georgian AIDS Association. Its motto was ‘Test All, Treat All, End the AIDS Epidemic in Georgia!’ Conference participants signed the Declaration ‘End the AIDS Epidemic in Georgia.’ The Declaration is a summary of the key effective measures to be taken to curb the AIDS epidemic in the country.

In 2004, Georgia became the first and remains the only Eastern European country providing universal access to the antiretroviral therapy (ART), which allows significantly increasing the life expectancy and the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS. In the period from 2004 to 2015, AIDS mortality in the country decreased almost fivefold.

New efforts and new results needed

However, despite the significant progress in the response to HIV, there are still unresolved issues in the country.

“In Georgia, the main problem is that a big number of new HIV infections are not diagnosed. 2010-2016 data confirm this trend. That is why the total number of HIV/AIDS patients is growing. Usually, the real indicators are several times higher than the official statistics. According to our estimates, in 2010 the real number of new infections was about 1,000 cases, while only 455 cases were diagnosed. In 2017, the estimated number of people with HIV/AIDS was as high as 12,000, with only 719 new cases diagnosed,” says Tengiz Tsertsvadze, the Director of the Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research and Development Centre. “Most people learn about their status by chance. 55% of HIV patients become aware of the infection at later stages, and 30% are already at the advanced stages when HIV is diagnosed.”

The most promising intervention to curb the AIDS epidemic in Georgia is the so-called treatment as prevention approach. A person living with HIV who has access to the effective ART does not transmit the virus to others. That is why, if such “treatment as prevention” strategy is applied to detect all HIV/AIDS cases and cover all HIV-positive people with health services, the epidemic can be eliminated.

According to Tengiz Tsertsvadze, this goal may be achieved through implementation of a unique national hepatitis C elimination program, which can play a crucial role in ending not only hepatitis C, but also HIV.

The fact is that the HIV/AIDS detection rate may be significantly improved through integration of HIV and hepatitis C testing within this program, stipulating provision of free treatment to about 20,000 patients a year. The Georgian Ministry of Health expects that thanks to this program in the nearest future there will be zero new cases of hepatitis C, and 95% of patients will be cured. All patients, irrespective of the stage of their disease, will be able to become participants of this national program.

Recent trends

HIV/AIDS Prevention Program Director at the Georgian Harm Reduction Network Maka Gogia says that in 2011-2017 there was a sharp reduction in the HIV rate among people who inject drugs

In two recent years, there were no babies born with HIV in Georgia. Besides, according to Maka Gogia, HIV/AIDS Prevention Program Director at the Georgian Harm Reduction Network, in 2011-2017 there was a sharp reduction in the HIV rate among people who inject drugs. While in 2011 the share of such people in the total number of detected cases was 45%, by 2017 such share fell down to 24%. This is a result of free syringe distribution.

The annual dynamics of HIV transmission routes in the new cases of HIV/AIDS shows reduction in new cases among injecting drug users with a growing proportion in the sexual route of transmission, especially in MSM (men who have sex with men). Nino Tsereteli, Executive Director of the Centre for Information and Counselling on Reproductive Health “Tanadgoma” says that a joint study of the AIDS Centre and “Tanadgoma” showed that in the recent years HIV/AIDS prevalence among men who have sex with men exceeds 20%.

According to the AIDS Centre the current statistics are: 43.1% of people living with HIV are injecting drug users; 44.4% get infected through heterosexual contacts, 9.8% – through homo- and bisexual contacts; about 1.5% are children who contracted HIV from their mothers during pregnancy; 0.5% cases are attributed to blood transfusions.

Statistics

As of 1 December 2017, the Georgian AIDS Centre registered 6,711 cases of HIV (5,013 men, 1,698 women). Most patients are 29-39 years old.

577 new HIV/AIDS cases have been detected in 11 months of 2017. ARV therapy is provided to 4,018 patients, including 48 children.

As of 2017, about 12,000 people were infected with HIV, 3,648 patients developed AIDS, and 1,339 died.

In Tajikistan LGBTI Face Blackmailing and Threats

Author: Nargis Hamrabaeva, Tajikistan

In Tajikistan, gays and lesbians were included into a register maintained by law enforcement agencies. However, there are cases when this information is used for blackmailing and intimidation.

In October this year, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Tajikistan published the list of members of LGBTI (the abbreviation was first used in English and stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) groups in the departmental magazine. In the register, there are 319 gays and 78 lesbians. “They have all been identified in the course of operations implemented by the national law enforcement department codenamed “Morality” and “Purge.” The fact that they belong to LGBTI groups has been proved and they have been entered into the police register,” informs the magazine.

HIV experts emphasize that this category of people is one of the populations vulnerable to HIV. “The data of sentinel surveillance in Tajikistan show that in 2015 the level of HIV prevalence among gay men was 2.7%, whereas in 2011 – 1.5%,” says Dilshod Sayburkhanov, the Deputy Director of the Republican AIDS Centre in Tajikistan.

“It will be difficult to regain their trust”

Our interviewees – representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and LGBTI groups – agreed to comment on the situation provided that they will stay anonymous.

Representative of an NGO protecting the rights of LGBTI (the abbreviation was first used in English and stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) told us that, according to the official statistics, currently there are 13.5 thousand members of sexual minorities residing in Tajikistan.

In his opinion, registration with police may lead to people from LGBTI going underground, exposing their partners to even higher risks. “It will be difficult to regain their trust. This is not a way to resolve the problem of HIV. Vice versa, the problem will grow bigger,” he says.

Blackmailing, intimidation and harassment

Our interviewee is sure that the register of LGBT community members is illegal and harmful for the community members. “It is harmful because all law enforcers will have access to this register, which will lead to the lack of confidentiality, intimidation and blackmailing to earn some money,” he shares his thoughts.

Aziz became a victim of such blackmailing. “When an officer of the local police precinct learned that I belong to the community, he started demanding two thousand dollars from me. He threatened that otherwise my photo and information about me will be on TV and in the internet. I have a wife and a family. Therefore, I had to agree, but where is the guarantee that this situation will not be repeated?” he asks.

Rustam, another representative of the LGBTI community said that just recently he suffered an attack in the entrance hall of the apartment building where he lives. “Two guys attacked me, kicked me down on the floor and were beating me with their feet yelling: “No fags in Tajikistan!” Then they ran away. I do not know where they got information about me as I try to hide my way of life. I am afraid that it came from this register. In fact, I could go to the police, since we have got a security camera at the entrance, but decided against it. I know that law enforcers will not protect the rights of such people as myself and it will only worsen my situation,” he says.

In Tajikistan, LGBTI face not only blackmailing and intimidation but also cyberbullying – harassment in the internet. That is why many members of the LGBTI community try to leave the country and seek asylum. According to some reports, in the recent year two gay men and two transgenders from Tajikistan were given asylum in Western Europe because they were victims of harassment based on their sexual orientation.

AIDS 2018 Scholarship Programme

Through the Scholarship Programme, the conference organizers commit to make the AIDS 2018 conference accessible to people from resource-limited settings, researchers, young people, key and vulnerable populations and community representatives.

International Scholarship Programme

The Scholarship Programme is open to everyone around the world working or volunteering in the field of HIV and AIDS who is at least 16 years of age at the time of the conference. This programme provides financial assistance to help people who would otherwise be unable to benefit from the conference.

Priority is given to:

  • Those whose participation will help enhance their work in their own communities
  • Those who are able to assist in the transfer of skills and knowledge acquired at the conference
  • Those whose abstract, workshop or Global Village and Youth activity has been selected.

The conference secretariat offers a free Abstract Mentor Programme for young or less experienced researchers to benefit from expert mentoring. Learn more and submit your draft abstract today.

Scholarship selection is based on a non-biased scoring system. A Scholarship Review Committee (SRC) contributes to the reviewing and scoring of the applications.

Only a limited number of scholarships is available, and applicants are strongly encouraged to seek other/additional funding sources. You can apply for an international scholarship here.

Media Scholarship Programme

A limited number of scholarships will also be available for media representatives. Media scholarship applicants are asked to provide media accreditation and supporting documents such as samples of their work and a letter from their editor. You can apply for a media scholarship here.

Type of support

Scholarship applicants are able to request a full or partial scholarship.

  • A full scholarship includes:
    • Registration fee for the conference (includes access to all sessions and exhibitions).
    • Travel(pre-paid airfare at the lowest fare available, from the nearest international airport).
    • Accommodation (shared room in a budget hotel for the days of the conference only).
    • Modest daily living allowance for the duration of the conference (23-27 July 2018).
  • A partial scholarship may include any combination of the above.

Applications are open online through the conference profile until 5 February 2018.

Source: AIDS 2018

Deadline Extended: Stipends for Dutch Based Delegates to Visit EECAAC 2018

VI Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference (EECAAC 2018)

“Mobilizing resources: experience, investments, innovations”

18-20 April 2018, Moscow, Russian Federation

The organizers of the VI International Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference (EECAAC 2018) provide 10 stipends for Netherlands-based organizations to participate in the Conference. The forum will be held three months before the XXII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018), which will be hosted by Amsterdam on 23-27 July 2018.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs acts as the observer in the EECAAC 2018 Organising Committee to enable clear links and continuity of discussions at both conferences. Why is it important? One of the five objectives of AIDS 2018 is to spotlight the state of the epidemic and the HIV response in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with a focus on investments, structural determinants and services. EECAAC 2018 is a platform for scientific exchange in the EECA region and will open the dialogue on partnerships and joint effort coordination in HIV response which will be continued at AIDS 2018.

The main goal of EECAAC 2018 is to focus on measures for eliminating the HIV epidemic and other public health concerns in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, present high-performance programs and provide experience exchange opportunities for scientists, experts, policy makers, healthcare professionals, activists and public figures in relation to the best HIV response strategies.

VI International Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference is expected to convene up to 3000 participants and will feature:

  • Presentation of innovative approaches to the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, opportunistic and concomitant infections.
  • Strengthening the link between science and practice.
  • Development of regional healthcare systems.
  • Exploring ideas around the new “AIDS/HIV-free generation”.
  • Expanding the role of sport in HIV response.
  • Discussing HIV and migration.
  • Expanding the role of partnerships and joint effort coordination in HIV response.
  • Examining economic aspects of HIV response.

 Conference organizers:

  • Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
  • Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor)

Why stipends for Dutch organizations?

The stipends will be provided to 10 representatives of Netherlands-based organizations in order to stimulate greater presence of these organizations at EECAAC 2018 as well as facilitate cooperation between the Netherlands and the EECA countries in HIV/AIDS response and related areas. The XXII International AIDS Conference will be specifically featured at EECAAC 2018.

Representatives of the Dutch NGOs and scientific institutes, activists working in the field of HIV/AIDS, SRHR, HIV and co-infections are invited to apply for a stipend to visit EECAAC 2018 and support the Dutch delegation at the Conference. Representatives will also be encouraged to occasionally represent the Netherlands at the Dutch Booth and/or to promote their NGO at the Community Village.

What do the stipends cover?

  1. Return economy class flight.
  2. Airport – hotel – airport transfer.
  3. Hotel – Conference – hotel transfers.
  4. Accommodation in the hotel (3-4 stars).
  5. Meals (breakfasts, lunches or dinners) for all days of the Conference.
  6. Per diems will not be provided.
  7. Support in obtaining visa if required.

Who can apply?

Individuals complying with all of the following criteria may apply:

  1. The applicant is 18 years of age by the time of the Conference and a staff member of an NGO, community-based organisation, scientific institution, network, association, or non-registered entity, located in the Netherlands
  2. An organisation, represented by the applicant, works in one of the following areas:
    1. HIV/AIDS prevention or service provision.
    2. HIV/AIDS and co-infection with TB and/or viral Hepatitis prevention or service provision.
    3. HIV/AIDS related non-medical research.
    4. HIV/AIDS and co-infection with TB and/or viral Hepatitis research.
    5. Support and service provision to the most vulnerable population including people using drugs, sex workers, LGBTQ, MSM.
    6. HIV/AIDS prevention and/or sexual health education for young people.
  3. An organisation, represented by the applicant is non-profit.
  4. An organisation, represented by the applicant, is working in the EECA region or has a demonstrable interest in this region.
  5. The applicant commits to actively participate in the whole duration of the Conference.
  6. The applicant is eager to contribute to the preparation for AIDS 2018 after the return from EECAAC by sharing knowledge and experiences at the events, which will be eventually organised in the run of the AIDS 2018 in the Netherlands.

How to apply?

In order to apply, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Follow this link in order to register for the Conference.
  2. Fill in the required fields at STEP 4 of the registration process.3. Wait for the decision of the Selection Commission regarding your application.

Deadline extended: applications submission closes at 24 January 2018.

Stipend awardees announcement: 31 January 2018.

The Selection Commission

The Selection Commission will consist of representatives of the AFEW International, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, GNP+, and independent consultants. The selection of the candidates will be based on criteria listed above and the following considerations:

  1. Even representation of the different areas and target groups.
  2. Strong commitment for active participation in EECAAC 2018.
  3. Strong commitment to share knowledge and experiences after returning to the Netherlands.
  4. Preference will be given to those candidates who otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit EECAAC 2018.
  5. A maximum of one representative per organization.

AIDS Day in Ukraine: Online Test, Quest for Adolescents

Author: Yana Kazmirenko, Ukraine

On December 1, an online HIV test was presented in Kyiv

On December 1, a wide range of activities marked the World AIDS in Ukraine. On this day, the first in Ukraine online test for HIV was presented in Kyiv. It is available at HIVtest.com.ua or via a mobile application ‘HIV test.’

“The test makes an audit of your health, rapidly assessing the risk of infection, and offers information about the nearest testing sites,” said Dmitry Sherembey, the Chairman of the Coordination Council of the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH.

Four weeks before the campaign, organizers placed billboards with the intriguing social advertising – a dangerous blade hidden in a juicy burger ­– in the streets of Kyiv. Dmitry Sherembey reveals the intrigue: for many people HIV is invisible, with 130 thousand out of 250 thousand people living with HIV in Ukraine not aware of their diagnosis.

The test contains about two dozen of questions – their number depends on the respondent’s lifestyle. For example, the question “Do you use condoms when having sex or not?” is relevant in Ukraine, where 51% of people living with HIV get infected through the sexual route of transmission. After a person answers all the questions, the test will show the probability of HIV infection and will show the information about the nearest clinic or confidential counseling room to get tested. The online test has been developed for two months and, according to Dmitry Sherembey, it shows the result that person is getting after the testing in 40% of cases.

Testing should become a routine procedure

Dmitry Sherembey shows the online test on his phone

According to Pavel Skala, Director of the Policy and Partnership at the Alliance for Public Health, the annual campaigns dedicated to the World AIDS Day should be changing and moving forward. On one hand, public awareness on HIV is growing, but on the other hand – people are losing interest in the repeating topics.

Testing should become a routine procedure for every Ukrainian, emphasizes Roman Ilyk, the Deputy Minister of Health. He says that over 50% of cases are diagnosed at the third and fourth clinical stages of HIV infection, when the person’s health is poor. 80% of people who die are 25-49 years old. The Ministry of Health called on Ukrainians to get tested for HIV and underlined that early detection of the disease allows to timely access treatment.

Interactive activities for teenagers

Every year, civil society organizations conduct campaigns for teenagers dedicated to the World AIDS Day. Alexander Mogilka, the coordinator of the social support project for adolescents at the Kharkiv Day Care Center for Children and Youth “Compass” thinks that the success of Ukraine in curbing the HIV epidemic largely depends on the progress in working with this target group. This year, “Compass” organized a quest called “The Safety Route” in Chervonohrad, Kharkiv region.

Teenagers from Chervonohrad walked the Safety Route

“The format of this game was developed by the German agency GIZ. The teams are to go through several checkpoints: contraception, routes of HIV transmission, environment assessment. When you answer a question, you may go to the next point,” tells Alexander.

He claims that 70% of “troubled” teenagers have experience of using drugs. Usually, these are children from dysfunctional families.

“Before, teenagers could access drugs through dens, but now they can just use internet and stashes hidden in agreed venues. There is a sad contrast: the drug business is developing and taking new forms and the prevention is lagging behind,” sums up Alexander.

He underlines that to develop new formats of working with young people – combining quests, flash mobs, and social campaigns – is a new challenge for civil society organizations.

The Train is off but HIV Stays

Author: Anastasia Petrova, Russia

Testing in Kurgan

From 8 July to 20 October 2017, a train carriage went throughout the territory of Russia offering HIV testing services to everyone interested. The campaign was aimed at raising the awareness and increasing the coverage with testing services among the general public.

The strategic train

The train offering HIV testing is a project of the Russian Ministry of Health in cooperation with the Russian Railways. The campaign was initiated within the State Strategy to Combat the Spread of HIV in Russia through 2020. Long-distance passenger trains were equipped with an additional carriage offering free and confidential testing. Project workers conducted pre- and post-test counseling and informed people about HIV and the ways of its transmission. The route lied from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg and included the regions most affected with HIV. Apart from offering HIV testing on the way, mobile laboratories were also functioning on the railway stations. The campaign was aimed at the first component of the global 90/90/90 strategy, which stipulates that 90% of people living with HIV should be aware of their status.

The silent epidemic

The carriage where the testing was conducted

The testing campaign covered 24 regions, with the following cities leading in terms of people tested: Chelyabinsk (2,039 people), Nizhnevartovsk (1,645 people), Irkutsk (1,446 people), Kurgan (1,290 people), and Samara (1,227 people). Moscow was the city with the lowest coverage – only 290 people got tested there. According to the Ministry of Health, within the campaign 25 thousand people were able to get tested and receive professional counseling in the carriage and in railway stations.

“The fact that those 24 regions were covered is important. Here in Russia, 10 out of 85 regions have 50% of new HIV cases, and as for the 24 regions covered, they have over 70% of such cases. That is why I think that this campaign has a concrete result as it is focused on the most affected regions,” the chief independent expert in HIV diagnostics and treatment at the Russian Ministry of Health, Yevgeny Voronin is saying.

Awareness-raising materials in the format of railway tickets

It is interesting that no official statistics was announced on the total number of HIV cases detected. However, according to the Minister of Health, Veronika Skvortsova, as of the date when the train was passing Moscow the number of HIV positive cases detected was 248. Thus, the total number of such cases is more than 250 or 1% of the people tested. Considering the fact that testing was conducted in the general population, this number shows the severe epidemiological situation in the country and proves the tendency of HIV epidemic going beyond the key populations.

The train is off

Such campaign is an unprecedented intervention aimed at raising the awareness of people in the area of HIV/AIDS. Apart from testing passengers, the campaign was an important newsmaker. Reports in federal and regional mass media allowed millions of people in Russia to learn about the importance of this problem and about the necessity of regular testing. A positive outcome is that after the train left mobile sites to continue testing remained at some railway stations.

Closing ceremony in St. Petersburg

Alongside with that, if the data about one percent of the HIV cases detected in the general population is confirmed, it will mean that the situation has got out of control. In this case, the measures taken by the Ministry of Health are to be scaled up a hundred times and are to be aimed not only at awareness raising and detection of new cases but also at treatment. Testing as it is is not a measure of response to the epidemic. Every patient should receive therapy in order to achieve minimal viral load not to transmit the virus to other people. However, in Russia less than a half of people living with HIV get the necessary medications.

 

In Kazakhstan Students Debated on HIV

Author: Marina Maksimova, Kazakhstan

Opening ceremony of the first international debate tournament in Almaty “SpeakUp: AIDS”

Over 400 students from universities of the CIS countries took part in the first international debate tournament on HIV “SpeakUp: AIDS” in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“Almaty is the city of students and active young people, who are interested in gaining knowledge, in particular in the area of healthy lifestyle and HIV prevention. Out of 5 000 people living with HIV in Almaty one-third is young people. Our city has a tradition to conduct spectacular campaigns dedicated to the World AIDS Day. This year, it was the first time we held debates on this topic among young people,” said Murat Daribayev, deputy akim (akim  is the head of a local government in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – note of editor) of Almaty.

Among the debate participants, there was the best 2017 speaker in the world representing the international debate movement, the main judge Raffy Marshall (Oxford), students from the major higher educational institutions of the country as well as from the UK, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Sweden. The international panel selected 120 teams to take part in debates on this critical social issue. The tournament was held in line with the British parliament model.

The right to argue

Aleksandr Semenov, a student of the law department at the Kazakh National University is not a newbie in the debate movement. For the seventh year in a row, he wins his right to take part in the debates. He got through to the final round ten times, won five tournaments and even trained other debaters.

“The debates are a separate culture. It is sort of a recharger for your brain to always keep you thinking and analyzing to be able to assess a problem from various points of view. Additionally, you have to do it as fast as possible. The topics are always different: politics, culture, religion, sports… It was the first time when we had our debates on HIV. Therefore, the first conclusion is that we cannot keep silent, we should talk about it and ruin the stereotypes. Young people may be the opinion leaders,” says Aleksandr.

There are two people on his team: he and Altynay Dzhumasheva, a student of the American University of Central Asia from Kyrgyzstan. For debaters, it is not important which country or university the team members represent, the main thing is the efficiency of their joint efforts, mutual support, ability to swiftly catch the idea voiced by the partner and develop it in an emotional and convincing manner.

Stronger arguments

At the tournament, the debaters could use any of the three languages: English, Kazakh or Russian. The organizers selected several key topics. They included digitalization of the health care, drug use problems, sexual education, HIV and children, stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV. The participants were to be competent in all the topics.

“One of the rounds addressed the topic of drug addiction. What should change in the countries and in minds to give information about drugs and for drug users to have a choice of treatment and rehabilitation options? Our “opposition” team had to resist a storm of arguments from the “government.” Finally, the victory was ours! Our arguments on the need to adopt an efficient state drug policy and open state rehabilitation centres appeared to be stronger,” tells Altynay Dzhumasheva.

Counting on the young people

Debates among young people in Kazakhstan are a new instrument in response to AIDS. Organizers of the debates included the local Almaty administration, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republican AIDS Center, the Health Department of Almaty, UNAIDS, and UNICEF.

Search for the new formats of HIV prevention among young people is an important topic to be discussed at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam.

“Kazakhstan has already started its preparations to declare the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We hope that information about HIV will continue to be accessible and accurate. The progress we have achieved has been to a great extent made possible thanks to people not being silent and youth being actively engaged,” HIV/AIDS Specialist from UNICEF Ruslan Malyuta is saying.

The winner of the English league of the first international debate tournament on HIV was a team from the People’s Friendship University of Russia. The best team in the Kazakh league was from the Taraz State University (Kazakhstan), and in the Russian league – from the Eurasian National University (Astana).

Five People Disclosed their HIV Status to Mark the World AIDS Day in Kyrgyzstan

Author: Olga Ochneva, Kyrgyzstan

The Shukurov family tells about their HIV status during the campaign in the Kara-Balta school

Kyrgyzstan marked the World AIDS Day on December 1 under the Slogan “My Health, My Right.” Competitions, quizzes, a flash mob, debates, a race, a fashion show, and meetings with journalists were dedicated to the World AIDS Day. The most surprising thing during these events was the number of people who publicly disclosed their HIV status.

“Live” stories

Every year on the first winter day mass media publish a year’s supply of reports on the situation with HIV and its prevention. This time, the main message in this load of media reports was the topic of fighting stigma against people living with HIV (PLWH). This message was delivered by people who decided to publicly disclose their HIV status and tell their stories. The start to this spontaneous campaign for the freedom from fears, myths and prejudices was given by Baktygul Shukurova in September this year at the National HIV Conference. Baktygul says that she decided to make this step for all PLWH, to refute myths and give people an opportunity to reflect on the fact that everyone has a right to life and health. Back then, Yevgeniy Yuldashev also made a decision to have an open conversation with journalists.

Charitable race to help children living with HIV was supported by people of different ages and occupations

Following the example of his wife Baktygul, Umid Shukurov also disclosed his HIV status during the December 1 campaign in his home town of Kara-Balta. The spouses opened the truth, which they had been hiding for seven years, and that, as they say, helped them to feel free. On November 29, two more women disclosed their status.

Race to support people living with HIV

A charitable race “My Health, My Right” was organized in one of the Bishkek parks with the USAID support. Despite the cold Saturday morning, over two hundred people took part in the three- and six-kilometre races. Participants had a chance to donate some money to buy New Year presents for children living with HIV. The task of this race was to raise the awareness on the need to be responsible about one’s health and to prevent the spread of HIV.

HIV Quiz Night

Participants of the Quiz Night had only one minute to think over the questions, but many of them replied ahead of time

UNAIDS organized a Quiz Night dedicated to the topic “Right to Health” in the context of HIV. The battle for the title of the smartest brought together 18 teams, each of them making a money contribution. Among the participants, there were teams of journalists, health professionals, students, staff members of AIDS organizations and fans of the Quiz Night game. The participants had to answer 20 questions. Questions about HIV related to the areas of medicine, cinema, history, and music. The best performing team got the game bank and the viewers learned many unexpected facts about HIV and health.

Prevention month

The Republican AIDS Centre dedicated its activities within the month to mark the World AIDS Day to prevention and fighting stigma against PLWH. There was a contest for the best materials on HIV among college and high school students and journalists in three nominations: video, poster, and article. Twenty teams took part in the debate tournament.

Female penal colony against HIV and violence

Women from the penal colony No. 2 demonstrate creativity while talking about important issues

This day was also marked in the penal institutions. AIDS Foundation East-West in the Kyrgyz Republic organized a creative contest in the female penal colony No. 2. Each team presented a leaflet, a dance, a song and two theatre performances on two cross-cutting topics – how to prevent HIV and how to protect yourself from violence. Women spent a month on working on the scenarios and creating the costumes and, as a result, the event was very informative and impressive.

 

 

“I have HIV and it is not a verdict”

Amina from Tajikistan lives with HIV for nine years

Author: Nargis Hamrabaeva, Tajikistan

In her memories, her life is divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’ she learned she had HIV. As strange as it may seem, with the therapy ‘after’ is not a verdict, not a tragedy, not the end…

We are meeting 29-year-old Amina (the name has been changed) in one of the coffee houses in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. She came to our meeting after work, short of breath, as she was afraid to be late. Good looking, with a glow of health on her cheeks, a strand of hair appearing from under her neatly tied headscarf, and snow-white teeth. One could say that she was to the full of her health.

Sipping her coffee, she tells her story. Amina has been living with HIV for nine years and she is not at all ashamed of her status. She is convinced that a person with such diagnosis may live the same life as with any other chronic disease. The main thing is to take antiretroviral (ART) therapy on time and attend medical check-ups.

Fire, hospital, blood transfusions…

In 2007, Amina married her distant family member. In fact, as it often happens in Tajik families, her parents arranged their marriage.

“It happened that my two sisters married the relatives of my father and to keep some kind of “balance,” my marriage was arranged with my mother’s family relative. I struggled. We lived in the house of my husband’s parents. My sisters-in-law, who moved back to their parents’ house after the divorce, also lived with us. I could only dream of a quiet life,” tells Amina.

Sometimes, the young woman became an object of her sisters-in-law’s vengeance after their quarrels with her husband. Once, after another big quarrel, Amina made a bonfire in the yard and was cooking some food in a big pot. She already had a one-year-old and was pregnant with her second baby. The girl was throwing more brushwood into the fire to make it stronger when suddenly someone approached her from behind and pushed her right into the flame…

Amina woke up in a hospital ward several days after. She was in awful pain – she had 40% of her skin burnt. Ahead, she had two months of hospital stay, treatment, loss of her baby, interrogations of police officers and many blood transfusions. It turned out that it was one of her sisters-in-law who pushed her into the fire.

After several months, the wounds of her body and soul were healed and Amina got pregnant again. As all pregnant women, she did all the required tests, including an HIV test. It came back positive. She was worried, desperate, scared. She did not know what to do. Professional psychologists of the AIDS center talked to her and explained that it was not the end, that she would need to take her therapy and would be able to live a normal life with certain conditions.

“You have HIV and you will die in half a year”

However, the conversation with her husband was hard.

“He also got tested and his result was negative. He blamed it all on me; said that if I have HIV, I would die in half a year. He said that he wanted neither me nor our child. Soon I gave birth to our second son, but it did not save our marriage. We broke up. Both my boys are HIV-negative,” adds Amina.

She thinks that she got infected during one of the blood transfusions in the hospital.

“After the diagnosis, you can and should go on living your life,” the woman is saying now. Earlier, she was alone and hopeless. Her children were her only comfort. For them, she was fighting for her life. “I have been taking ART for five years. It includes several drugs, each of which influences a certain stage in the HIV replication cycle. In other words, when a person takes the therapy, the virus no longer replicates in the cells of his immune system.”

Building a house and finding a true love

A local organisation working with HIV-positive women helped Amina to become stronger and believe in herself. Now the young woman works as an outreach worker there, helping other women who are diagnosed with HIV to overcome their fears and depression. Her two wonderful boys are growing up. One of them goes to the third grade, and the second one has started his first year in school.

“To my ex-husband’s surprise, I am still alive, though nine years have already passed,” she says with a smile on her face. “Money that I make here is enough for us, but I am afraid to think about what can happen if the project is closed. Now there is a crisis everywhere. I could go to Russia to earn some money, but there I would have to make a mandatory HIV test to get a job and then I might face deportation.”

“What is your dream?”, I am asking her.

“Now I am on a waiting list to get a land plot and I would like to build a house for my children,” says Amina. Currently, she lives with her mother and her brother’s family. “They are all well aware of HIV, they know the routes of transmission, so they are not afraid to give me a hug or to eat from one bowl with me, and my brother’s wife sometimes leaves her children for me to look after.”

Besides, Amina is dreaming about meeting her true love and creating a family. This strong and self-confident young woman may be a role model for many people living with HIV.

AIDS 2018: Abstract Submission Guidelines

Scientific tracks

The 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) welcomes submission of abstracts for original contribution to the field in the following scientific tracks:

  • Track A: Basic and translational research
  • Track B: Clinical research
  • Track C: Epidemiology and prevention research
  • Track D: Social and political research, law, policy and human rights
  • Track E: Implementation research, economics, systems and synergies with other health and development sectors

Each scientific track is divided into a number of track categories. All abstract authors are asked to choose one scientific track and one track category during the submission process.

By submitting an abstract to the conference, you agree to adhere to the conference embargo policy. The policy specifies that while authors may publish the fact that their abstract has been selected for inclusion in the conference programme, data from the abstract may NOT be shared in any form (print, broadcast, or online publication, media release or conference presentation) prior to its official presentation at AIDS 2018.

Call for abstracts

We encourage work that introduces new ideas, concepts, research and deepens understanding in the field, as well as analyses of both successes and failures. Please read the following guidelines carefully before submitting your abstract:

  • Abstracts can only be submitted online via the conference profile on our website aids2018.org; submissions by fax, post or email will not be considered.
  • All abstracts must be written in English.
  • It is the author’s responsibility to submit a correct abstract. Any errors in spelling, grammar or scientific fact in the abstract text will be reproduced as typed by the author. Abstract titles will be subject to a spell check if the abstract is selected for presentation.

Late breaker abstracts

A small number of late breaker abstracts will be accepted for oral or poster presentation at the conference. Late breaker submissions must be data of unquestioned significance that meet a high threshold of scientific merit.

During submission, authors will have to justify why their abstract should be considered as a late breaker. The same submission rules apply for the late breaker abstracts as for the regular abstracts, but each presenting author may only present one late breaker abstract at the conference. The late breaker abstract submission will be open from 19 April to 10 May 2018.

The percentage of abstracts selected for late breakers will depend on the number of submissions, but selection will be far more rigorous than for regular abstracts.

Questions

  • For technical questions regarding the abstract submission system, please contact the abstract support team at abstracts@aids2018.org.
  • Questions regarding the content of the abstract should be addressed to the Abstract Mentor Programme at mentor@aids2018.org.

Policies for abstract submission

Copyright policy

Abstracts should not include libelous or defamatory content. Material presented in abstracts should not violate any copyright laws. If figures/graphics/images have been taken from sources not copyrighted by the author, it is the author’s sole responsibility to secure the rights from the copyright holder in writing to reproduce those figures/graphics/images for both worldwide print and web publication. All reproduction costs charged by the copyright holder must be borne by the author.

Resubmission policy

An abstract which has been previously published or presented at a national, regional or international meeting can only be submitted provided that there are new methods, findings, updated information or other valid reasons for submitting.

The 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2015), at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo ©Steve Forrest/Workers’ Photos/IAS

If preliminary or partial data have been published or presented previously, the submitting author will be required to provide details of the publication or presentation, along with a justification of why the abstract merits consideration for AIDS 2018. This information will be considered by the Scientific Programme Committee when making final decisions.

If the author neglects to provide these required details and justification, or if evidence of previous publication or presentation is found, the abstract will be rejected.

Plagiarism

The conference organizers regard plagiarism as serious professional misconduct. All abstracts are screened for plagiarism and when identified, the abstract and any other abstracts submitted by the same author are rejected. In addition, the submitting author’s profile and scholarship application, in the case one has been submitted, will also be canceled.

Co-submission

AIDS 2018 may negotiate co-submission of abstracts with affiliated events, pre-conferences and/or external events. Visit www.aids2018.org for updated information.

Ethical Research Declaration

The conference supports only research that has been conducted according to the protocol approved by the institutional or local committee on ethics in human investigation. Where no such committee exists, the research should have been conducted in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki of World Medical Association. The AIDS 2018 Scientific Programme Committee may enquire further into ethical aspects when evaluating the abstracts.

Conference embargo policy

As is the case with most scientific/medical conferences, abstracts from AIDS 2018 are released to delegates and media under a strict embargo policy. A detailed breakdown of the embargo policies for different types of abstracts is available here. All conference delegates, presenters and media agree to respect this policy.

Abstract submission process

Conference profile

Before submitting an abstract, authors must create a conference profile. More than one abstract can be submitted through the conference profile. After an abstract has been created, modifications can be made until the submission deadline. The final deadline to submit the abstract is 5 February 2018, 23:59 Central European Time.

Choosing a track category

The track category is the general heading under which the abstract will be reviewed and later published in the conference printed matters if accepted. The track category which best describes the subject of the abstract should be chosen. During the submission process, you will be asked to select one track category for your abstract.

Abstract structure

The conference offers two options for abstract submission:

Option 1

Suited for research conducted in all disciplines. Abstracts submitted under the first option should contain concise statements of:

  • Background: indicate the purpose and objective of the research, the hypothesis that was tested or a description of the problem being analysed or evaluated.
  • Methods: describe the study period/setting/location, study design, study population, data collection and methods of analysis used.
  • Results: present as clearly and in as much detail as possible the findings/outcomes of the study. Please summarize any specific results.
  • Conclusions: explain the significance of your findings/outcomes of the study for HIV prevention, treatment, care and/or support, and future implications of the results.

The following review criteria will be used in scoring abstracts submitted under option 1:

  • Is there a clear background and justified objective?
  • Is the methodology/study design appropriate for the objectives?
  • Are the results important and clearly presented?
  • Are the conclusions supported by the results?
  • Is the study original, and does it contribute to the field?

Option 2

Suited for lessons learned through programme, project or policy implementation or management. Abstracts submitted under the second option should contain concise statements of:

  • Background: summarize the purpose, scope and objectives, of the programme, project or policy;
  • Description: describe the programme, project or policy period/setting/location, the structure, key population (if applicable), activities and interventions undertaken in support of the programme, project or policy;
  • Lessons learned: present as clearly and in as much detail as possible the findings/outcomes of the programme, project or policy; include an analysis or evaluation of lessons learned and best practices. Please summarize any specific results that support your lessons learned and best practices;
  • Conclusions/Next steps: explain the significance of your findings/outcomes of the programme, project or policy for HIV prevention, treatment, care and/ r support, and future implications of the results.

The following review criteria will apply to abstracts submitted under option 2:

  • Is there a clear background and justified objective?
  • Is the programme, project or policy design and implementation appropriate for the objectives?
  • Are the lessons learned or best practices important, supported by the findings and clearly presented?
  • Are the conclusions/next steps supported by the results and are they feasible?
  • Is the work reported original, and does it contribute to the field?

Disaggregated sex and other demographic data in abstracts

Authors are encouraged to provide a breakdown of data by sex and other demographics such as age, geographic region, race/ethnicity, and/or other relevant demographic characteristics in submitted abstracts, when appropriate. Your abstract should include the number and percentage of men and women (and additional breakdown by gender and/or ethnicity if appropriate) that participated in your research or project, and results should be disaggregated by sex/gender and other relevant demographics. Analyses of any gender-based differences or any other differences between sub-populations should be provided in the Results or Lessons Learned sections, if relevant.

Font

A standard font, e.g. Arial, should be used when formatting the text. This helps to prevent special characters from getting lost when copying the text to the online abstract submission form. Ensure to check the final abstract with the system’s preview function before submission, and edit or replace as necessary.

Word limits

The abstract text body is limited to 350 words. Titles are limited to 30 words.

A maximum of one table and one graph/image can be included: a graph/image (in JPG, GIF or PNG with ideally 600 dpi) can be included. These will not count toward the word limit, nor will the information about authors, institutions and study groups.

Common reasons for abstract rejection:

  • Abstract poorly written.
  • Not enough new information.
  • Clear objective and/or hypothesis missing.
  • Linkage between different parts of the abstract not comprehensible.
  • Duplicate or overlap with another abstract.
  • Study/project/programme/policy too preliminary or insufficient to draw conclusions.
  • Study/project/programme/policy lack of originality.

Reasons for abstract rejection – specific to Option 1:

  • Methods (either quantitative or qualitative) inadequate and/or insufficient to support conclusions;
  • Summary of essential results inadequate and/or missing.

Reasons for abstract rejection – specific to Option 2:

  • Description inadequate and/or insufficient to support conclusions;
  • Lessons learned inadequate and/or missing.

Recommendations

  • Abstracts should disclose primary findings and avoid, whenever possible, promissory statements such as “experiments are in progress” or “results/lessons learned will be discussed”;
  • If English is not your native language, we recommend that you have your abstract reviewed by a native speaker before submission;
  • The conference offers an Abstract Mentor Programme for less experienced submitters. Please see further information below.

Submission confirmation

After submission of the abstract, a confirmation email will be sent to the abstract submitter. In order to receive confirmation, please ensure that emails from abstracts@aids2018-abstracts.org are not marked as spam by your e-mail provider.

Support programmes

Abstract Mentor Programme

The goal of the AIDS 2018 Abstract Mentor Programme is to provide an opportunity for young and/or less experienced abstract submitters to have their draft abstracts mentored by more experienced authors before submitting their abstract to the conference.

Abstracts submitted by authors that have volunteered to be a mentor in the programme will not automatically be accepted. The same applies for abstracts submitted by authors that were mentored by the programme.

For more information please visit Abstract Mentor Programme webpage.

Scholarship application process

Abstract authors interested in applying for a scholarship must complete a full scholarship application, available through your Conference Profile from 1 December 2017 to 1 February 2018.

For more information please visit Scholarship Programme webpage.

Abstract review and selection process

Abstract review

All submitted abstracts will go through a blind peer-review process carried out by an international reviewing committee. Each abstract will be reviewed by at least three reviewers.

Abstract selection

The Scientific Programme Committee makes the final selection of abstracts to be included in the conference programme. Abstracts can be selected for oral presentation in oral abstract sessions or to be presented as a poster. A small number of highest-scoring posters are selected for presentation in oral poster discussion sessions; the majority of the posters will be displayed in the Poster Exhibition.

Notification of acceptance or rejection to the corresponding author

Notification of acceptance or rejection will be sent to the submitting (corresponding) author by mid-April. Please note that only the corresponding author will receive an email concerning the abstract and is responsible for informing all co-authors of the status of the abstract. Authors whose abstracts have been accepted will receive instructions for the presentation of their abstract.

Rule of two

Each presenting author may present a maximum of two abstracts at the conference. The number of submissions is, however, not limited. Should an author have more than two abstracts accepted for presentation, a co-author must be named as presenting author for one or more abstracts.

In addition, each presenting author may also present one late breaker abstract at the conference.

Publication of accepted abstracts

The submission of the abstracts constitutes the authors’ consent to publication. If the abstract is accepted, the authors agree that their abstracts are published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license. The license allows third parties to share the published work (copy, distribute, transmit) and to adapt it for any purposes, under the condition that AIDS 2018 and authors are given credit, and that in the event of reuse or distribution, the terms of this license are made clear. Authors retain the copyright of their abstracts, with first publication rights granted to the IAS.

Accepted abstracts may, therefore, be published on IAS websites and publications, such as the AIDS 2018 Online Conference Programme and other conference materials, the IAS abstract archive, the Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS), etc.

Source: AIDS 2018