AIDS 2018: Engaging Young People who use Drugs in the HIV and Human Rights Response in Ukraine

Source: www.aids2018.org

Ukraine presented its experience in engaging young people who use drugs in the HIV and human rights response during International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam. Organisations ACO “Convictus Ukraine”, ICF “AIDS Foundation East-West” (AFEW-Ukraine), CF “Return to Life” and CF “KCF “Blago” shared the results of their work.

Club for teenagers

The main purpose of the activity in the framework of the PITCH project is to prevent the spread of HIV and other dangerous diseases among vulnerable adolescents and to develop healthy lifestyle habits, the director of “Convictus Ukraine” Yevheniia Kuvshynova is saying.

In their work, “Convictus” team is actively using mobile clinic where they provide services for teenagers. A multidisciplinary team is operating on the basis of a mobile clinic. The mobile clinic helps them to bring the services to those who are not covered with prevention and treatment programs. There is also a school of leaders and a Street power youth club, where teenagers can spend their leisure time and receive help from psychologist or social workers, get information, medical services, testing, etc. Around 500 teenagers received services in the club.

Accepted the monitoring tool

Iryna Nerubaieva

The project manager of the ICF “AIDS Foundation East-West” (AFEW-Ukraine) Iryna Nerubaieva shared the results of the piloting of the tool for monitoring the violations of human rights of most-at-risk adolescents which was developed and implemented in the framework of the project Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations. From January till December 2017 in four pilot cities, 792 interviews with adolescents and youth aged 14-21 were conducted. 430 adolescents were 14-18 years old. The number of cases of human rights violations registered in an online form was 92 of all surveyed. A young activist of the CF “Return to Life” Daria Kopyevska, a social worker of the CF “KCF “Blago”Alina Khokhlova and a lawyer and AFEW-Ukraine’s consultant Vita Musatenko also shared their experience.

“It is good to see that teenagers realized why they need this tool, and how social workers accepted it. Now they know how that it will help in their work,” Vita Musatenko is saying.

According to the latest estimates, the number of most-at-risk adolescents is 129 000, including 21 700 injection drug users. However, there is no official data on the exact number of most-at-risk adolescents, including underage drug users. In Ukraine, most-at-risk adolescents represent a very closed group, thus the lack of statistical data, stigma, discrimination and legal barriers make their access to HIV/STI services more complicated.

 

AFEW International Receives Grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation

Sir Elton John during International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam

Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

AFEW International received the Emergency Support Fund Manager grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation. This news was announced during the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. AFEW has got this grant together with AIDSfonds.

Within this ‘Emergency Support Fund Manager” grant, AFEW will use its long-lasting expertise and history in grant-making and support to strengthen the capacity of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) to overcome emergencies and to become stronger organisations.

Louise van Deth, Director of AIDSfgonds

“We are very honoured to receive this grant that will last three years,” says the executive director of AFEW International Anke van Dam. “Access to the treatment in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is a crucial need, particularly for key populations most at risk and people living with HIV. Unfortunately, not more than 30% of people living with HIV have access to the treatment. Stock outs of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) do happen, and the Emergency Support Fund is a great means to avoid this.”

AFEW will disburse emergency grants to enable key populations CBOs and NGOs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to survive emergency situations and to be prepared or avoid emergencies in the future. NGOs and CBOs often deal with emergency situations due to a restrictive legal environment for key populations at risk for HIV, stigma and discrimination of those groups and a limited space to operate as a CBO and NGO.

AFEW Network at AIDS 2018

AFEW Network at the 22nd International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 23-27, 2018

Date Status Event title and type Place
21/07 – 22/07 Pre-Conference Youth

Empowermentand Validation

Roeterseiland Campus: Roetersstraat 1012 WX, Amsterdam
21/07

15:00-18:00

Affiliated event Theatre play in the framework of the

Teenergizerproject “Voices of Youth from Eastern Europe and Central Asia at AIDS 2018”

CREA Cultureel Studentencentrum – Nieuwe Achtergracht 170, Amsterdam
22/07

10:45-11:45

Affiliated event Roundtable: A person-centred response to the epidemic, Journalist Fellowship training RAI, Elicium Centre D203
22/07

14:30

Affiliated event Opening of ATLAS 2018 exhibition: I will speak, I will speak! Beurs van Berlage

Damrak 243, 1012 ZJ Amsterdam

22/07 Pre-Conference Meeting 90-90-90 targets is not the end of AIDS; Joep Lange Institute;

Mayors of Kyiv and Almaty

RAI
23/07

08:30 – 10:00

Open for public Walking the walk: youth movements to fight

HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

RAI, Global Village
23/07

11:30-12:30

Open for

public

Art and Social Change: a dialogue with artists and social and health professionals on how culture and social initiatives can strengthen each other. Guided tour along the artworks with AFEW Culture Initiative lead Jan van Esch and and Ambassador International Cultural Collaboration Arjen Uijterlinde RAI, Global Village

ActivEast community zone 515

23/07

14:30-15:00

Open for public Artists Displaced at AIDS 2018: guided tours of the series of installations by the Artists-in-Residence (AiRs) and the project curator RAI, Global Village

ActivEast community zone

24/07 Open for public Strength in Resilience: Learning from key population communities in EECA confronted with shrinking civil society space RAI, Global Village

ActivEast community zone 515

24/07

10:30-11:30

Open for public Meet, Greet and Brainstorm on

Harmreductionand the EU Parliamentary elections 2019

RAI stand COALITION PLUS (exhibition zone)
24/07

11:00-12:00

Open for public Meet & greet RAI, Global Village, booth 509 (Prison Corner)
24/07

11:30-12:00

& 14:30-15:00

Open for public Artists Displaced at AIDS 2018: guided tours of the series of installations by the Artists-in-Residence (AiRs) and the project curator RAI, Global Village

ActivEast community zone

24/07

16:30-18:00

Open for

public

Panel discussion: Protecting people who migrate in countries of origin, transit and destination RAI Forum
24/07

18:00-19:30

Open for public Prison Health a Logic Choice: Key Implementation Factors RAI AFEW Office,

Amtrium2nd floor, above the entrance to the Global village

25/07

10:00-12:00

Open for

public

Panel discussion: Providing health services in prisons: addressing inequities, preventing and treating HIV and TB RAI UNAIDS Office Space, meeting room 2
25/07

11:30-12:00

& 14:30-15:00

Open for public Artists Displaced at AIDS 2018: guided tours of the series of installations by the Artists-in-Residence (AiRs) and the project curator RAI, Global Village

ActivEast community zone

25/07

16:00-17:30

open AFEW Network‘s Experience in strengthening community monitoring and involvement in service delivery: From

grassrootto policy level

Global Village, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Networking zone
26/07 10.30-11.30 open for public Strength in resilience: learning from key population communities confronted with shrinking civil society space AIDS Fonds Networking zone
26/07

11:15-12:15

open for public Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights of Key Populations and PITCH. Engaging young people who use drugs in Ukraine in the HIV and human rights response RAI, Global Village, booth 509 (Prison Corner)
26/07

11:30-12:00

& 14:30-15:00

Open for public Artists Displaced at AIDS 2018: guided tours of the series of installations by the Artists-in-Residence (AiRs) and the project curator RAI, Global Village

ActivEast community zone

26/07

12:45-13:15

open for public HIV prevention, treatment and care in prisons activities in Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union countries RAI, Global Village, booth 509 (Prison Corner)
26/07

14:45-15:15

open for public Press moment: “Don’t let the prisoners behind” RAI, Global Village, booth 509 (Prison Corner)
26/07

16:30 – 18:00

For AIDS2018 delegates Workshop Migration in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: access to health care for all? RAI, E105-108
26/07

21:00 – 24:00

Open event AFEW Disco “From EECA with Love” Tolhuistuin – IJpromenade 2, 1031 KT Amsterdam
27/07

11:30-12:00

Open for public Artists Displaced at AIDS 2018: guided tours of the series of installations by the Artists-in-Residence (AiRs) and the project curator RAI, Global Village

ActivEast community zone

                                                                               Activities throughout AIDS2018
Date Status Title Place
22/07 – 27/07 Open for public Dutch Approach Booth RAI, Global Village
22/07 – 27/07 Open for public EECA Region Networking zone RAI, Global Village, EECA networking zone

ActivEast community zone, 515

22/07 – 27/07 Open for public Harm Reduction, People Who Use Drugs and Prison Health Networking Zone RAI, Global Village
23/07 – 27/07 Open for public The Walking History Corridor: Visualising the Mythologies of HIV/AIDS, the Caucasus and Beyond RAI, 812

corridor that is linking the Global Village with the main Conference Space

23/07 – 27/07 Open for public Transparent Dining: An Evolving Museum of Life Experiences, Social Commentary and Culinary Gatherings by and for Women Affected by HIV/AIDS in the EECA Region RAI, outside of the Global Village
23/07 – 27/07 Open for public Putting on a different lens: sex work, harm reduction and medical research in the Netherlands viewed through an artistic Eastern European and Central Asian lens RAI, Global Village – 823, time TBD

 

AFEW Network Issues Guide for AIDS 2018 Visitors

With 22nd International AIDS Conference approaching in about two weeks, AFEW Network issued a guide for AIDS 2018 visitors with the useful information. The guide provides general information about Amsterdam – the home city for AIDS 2018. It also has information on public transport, drug policy, medical services, police, culture in the Netherlands, and practical questions.

The guide is in English and Russian languages and it can be downloaded here.

Stigma Affects the Motivation for HIV Testing

Author: Marina Maximova, Kazakhstan

As estimated by UNAIDS, 35 million people globally died of AIDS-associated diseases since the onset of the epidemic. People living with HIV die of tuberculosis, cancers, hepatitis… Meanwhile, there is no data on how many lives are lost to stigma. Today stigma is the strongest barrier for testing among those who are not aware of their status and for receiving services among people living with HIV (PLWH).

Migrant with HIV double stigma

Salavat Kabjalelov is an outreach worker and a peer consultant in the Zabota (‘Care’) Charitable Foundation. He helps labour migrants: offers consultations on HIV, tells about the need to get tested, navigates clients for diagnostics to the AIDS Centre and to the tuberculosis clinic. Salavat can find the right words for every client. He had no citizenship or registration, no access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) and he wanted to hide not only from his problems but also from hostile stares and rough remarks of people around him.

Salavat Kabjalelov

He and his wife lived a quiet life, not seeking medical care. For migrants, the main thing is their job, not their health. Then, three years ago something tragic happened. Salavat lost his wife. The young woman died of cancer.

“I tried to arrange hospice care for my wife. I was even ready to pay for it, but it was not possible. They refused me. She was living with HIV. It appeared that it was more important to be a citizen. If you had a severe disease, it was not an argument. The good news is that now the situation in Kazakhstan is improving and migrants with HIV will be provided with ART. However, it will not bring my wife back,” complains Salavat.

Everyone goes through self-stigma

Lyubov Chubukova

Lyubov Chubukova works in the Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV. She is a delicate woman of strong character, who can convince people both from the tribunes of international forums and in one-on-one arguments. Twelve years of living with HIV made her a leader. She experienced stigma in a private health centre where she came when she got pregnant – young and confused. An older woman gave her an advice – to seek health services only in the AIDS Centre. However, Lyubov says that her self-stigma was even stronger. Every person who learns about having HIV faces this problem.

“I no longer consider myself a victim as it makes it impossible for me to live and grow. Good support in fighting self-stigma is trusting people and knowing your rights. You have to live on, not restricting yourself, and overcome your fears. Otherwise, you may reach the worst point,” says Lyubov.

Lyubov does not hide her status. Vice versa, she often takes part in TV shows and open discussions as an expert. She is convinced that stigma affects the motivation for HIV testing. People are afraid to get tested for HIV as they are worried that their test may come back positive. At the same time, if a person living with HIV starts the therapy too late, the probability of treatment success is much lower and it can even lead to death of the patient.

Every tenth person living with HIV has suicidal thoughts

Three years ago, the Central Asian Association of People Living with HIV within the Leader of People Living with HIV Project funded by USAID for the first time in the region carried out a survey to assess the index of stigma in three Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Results of the study in Kazakhstan showed that every tenth person living with HIV had suicidal thoughts. PLWH aged 30 and above suffer most from self-stigma as well as people with small (one to nine years) history of living with HIV. Self-discrimination mainly leads to the decision not to have any more children. Every third person living with HIV in the country makes such a decision.

The study demonstrated that the experience of injecting drug use as well as the experience of imprisonment were the drivers of stigma towards people living with HIV. Most often, PLWH faced discrimination from the side of health workers (first of all, refusal to provide health care) and public officials, while discrimination from the side of their immediate social environment was far less common. Moreover, the cases of discrimination were accumulated in the first ten years of a person living with HIV.

No silence about stigma

Baurzhan Bayserkin

The first step in overcoming stigma is to break the wall of silence. Approval of regulations at the country level is a real victory. In the beginning of the year, the National Plan to Fight Stigma and Discrimination against People Living with HIV was approved in Kazakhstan.

“Stigma and discrimination related to HIV status are the major barriers for PLWH to access prevention, care and support services. To end the spread of HIV, a focus should be made on the complete eradication of discrimination, first of all in health institutions. It will allow achieving a significant reduction in the growth of HIV epidemic,” says Baurzhan Bayserkin, General Director of the Republican AIDS Centre.

Kazakhstani are going to continue this discussion at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam AIDS 2018.

IVF for Women with HIV in Ukraine: Bringing the Right to Have a Child Back

Svetlana Moroz (second on the right) discusses the elimination of the discriminatory norms at a round table. Photo by Positive Women NGO.

Authors: Yana Kazmirenko, Tamara Balayeva, Ukraine

In Ukraine, amendments are prepared to the regulations of the Ministry of Health (MoH) prohibiting in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for women living with HIV. Currently, HIV is in the list of diseases, which are contraindications for IVF, approved by the MoH. In Western countries, IVF has been successfully delivered to women living with HIV for a long time. Ukrainian activists strive for the prohibition on in vitro fertilisation for women living with HIV to be abolished.

In early July, a round table discussion was held in the Public Health Centre at the MoH. At AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, activists are planning to meet with Ulana Suprun, Acting Minister of Health of Ukraine, to present their insights and explain why it is so important to abolish the outdated regulations.

Discrimination and self-stigmatization

There is no statistics on how many women living with HIV apply for IVF in Ukraine every year and are refused. Svetlana Moroz, representing the Positive Women NGO, sent relevant requests to 10 regions. So far, there have been no replies. Svetlana says that information about the attempts of women living with HIV to make IVF is shared only among civil society activists.

A woman with HIV status sought help in their organization. After long searches, she found a clinic in Kharkiv, which was ready to work with women living with HIV

“She made two attempts, which have not been successful so far. Another woman from Sloviansk used her advice and also sought assistance in this clinic, but she had a miscarriage,” tells Svetlana.

She says that some private clinics agree to make IVF to women living with HIV but do not advertise it due to the orders of the MoH. Such clinics charge their clients a double price because of the possible risks. Other health facilities use standard excuses: lack of equipment or reference to HIV being on the list of contraindications for IVF.

Apart from the MoH orders and reluctance of clinics, there is another barrier – self-stigmatization. According to Svetlana Moroz, many women living with HIV do not even try to seek assistance in IVF clinics: they know that they will face a refusal or do not know that they even have such a right.

All IVF risks are myths

Valentina Kvashenko, chief physician of the A.A. Partners Health Company also thinks that refusal to make IVF to HIV-positive women is a discriminatory practice and that concerns about the risks of HIV transmission are ungrounded. Doctors carry out all the manipulations with semen and eggs with disposable catheters and needles. In the course of deliveries, they wear gloves, glasses, and aprons. The same safety precautions are used during all standard deliveries. Usually, only one embryo is transferred to women with HIV status to reduce the potential need of invasive interventions.

“There is no need in “prohibiting” regulations, due to which people are not able to perform their reproductive functions and become parents,” says Valentina, adding that HIV may be transmitted from mother to child, but only if the woman is not taking antiretroviral therapy (ART).

She gives statistics to prove her words: in 1996-1997, when there was no access to antiretroviral drugs in Ukraine, HIV was transmitted from mother to child in 60% of cases. Now this rate is less than 10%. Even this percentage only relates to children born to women who do not receive ART. Besides, the IVF procedure reduces the risk of virus transmission to a minimum.

Litigation for the right to IVF

If the letter to the Ministry of Health will not give a result and will not allow to promptly introduce amendments to the regulations, the activists have a second option – legal action.

“We will work on creating a legal case. The fact is that the MoH regulations contradict the laws of Ukraine, which do not prohibit in vitro fertilization for HIV-positive women. If nothing else works, we will find a woman living with HIV who is ready to go all the way and defend her rights in court,” explains Svetlana Moroz.

It is expected that draft amendments to the regulations will be ready and presented to the Ministry of Health in late November. While the old regulations are still in force, Svetlana gives recommendations to women who are refused the IVF services.

“Always demand official refusals. With the doctor’s words only, you will not be able to file a lawsuit in court and all the more to win it. Secondly, seek assistance in human rights organizations. For example, our organization is ready to provide free lawyers’ services to women, help them to prepare the required documents and in general offer all the necessary legal support,” sums up Svetlana.

After the discriminatory regulations are abolished, Ukrainian women living with HIV will have a right to participate in the state-funded IVF program for childless couples.

Movies That Matter on AIDS 2018

Lucky specials. Source: www.moviesthatmatter.nl

The 22nd International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands provides a unique forum for the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights. The Global Village of the Conference intersects with the main conference programme, blending scientific sessions with cultural activities, live performances, networking zones, NGO booths, marketplace booths, and art exhibits. The Global Village is open to the general public and creates a diverse and vibrant space where communities from all over the world gather to meet, share and learn from each other. 23-26 July Movies That Matter will present four films in The Global Village that match the themes of the conference.

Founded in March 2006, Movies that Matter followed the footsteps of the Amnesty International Film Festival. It continued and enhanced the festival’s activities, both in the Netherlands and abroad. Movies that Matter believes that film is a powerful weapon against social indifference. What cannot be accomplished by spoken and written language, can be achieved by motion picture. Cinema fascinates, stimulates, inspires and raises awareness. Films have an emotional appeal and serve as a mouthpiece for victims of injustice.

Movies that Matter film screenings are not complete without an expansion programme, in the form of debates, introductions, speeches or Q&A sessions. Human rights defenders, filmmakers, experts and representatives of social organisations jointly analyse the situations in which human rights are at stake in order to put things in perspective.

Film agenda on AIDS 2018

KIKI
Monday 23 July – 17:15
The film will be introduced by Maarten Stoltz, Program-Coordinator at Movies that Matter.

LUCKY SPECIALS
Tuesday 24 July – 18:30
In collaboration with THE UNION: International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and KNCV Tuberculosis fund.
The film will be introduced by Emily T. Blitz, Global Director of Conferences and Summits at THE UNION.

WHO’S GONNA LOVE ME NOW?
Wednesday 25 July – 18:30
The film will be introduced by Dirk van der Straaten, Artistic Director at Movies that matter.

LITTLE HEAVEN
Thursday 26 July – 18:30
The film will be introduced by Mercy Ngulube, Young anti-AIDS activist and victim of AIDS.

Where: RAI Amsterdam, Amtrium first floor, room L103-104

Good to know: the programme is free and will be hosted in English

More information can be found here.

Invisible Epidemic of Hepatitis C in Russia

Irina Shestakova, chief external infectious disease specialist of the Russian Ministry of Health, photo by Oleg Kiryushin

Author: Anastasia Petrova, Russia

July 28 is the World Hepatitis Day. According to Irina Shestakova, chief external infectious disease specialist at the Russian Ministry of Health, the number of people infected with hepatitis C in the country may reach 5.8 million. Last year, only less than 0.2% of people with this disease received treatment.

Hepatitis C spreading to the “general population”

As estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO), about 71 million people globally are infected with hepatitis C. In 2015, 1.34 million of people all over the world died of hepatitis-related conditions. This is more than the number of AIDS-related deaths and is comparable only with the number of people who lost their lives to tuberculosis. The morbidity due to the consequences of hepatitis C continues to grow.

The incidence is also growing. Hepatitis C has long gone out of socially disadvantaged groups to the “general population.” The virus may be transmitted through non-sterile equipment in a dentist’s office, nail salon or during any medical surgery involving contact with blood. At the same time, affected by this severe disease, people often lack reliable information about the virus, not to mention the opportunity to receive effective treatment.

In Russia, it is difficult to access the therapy, while the regimens which are offered are not in line with the international guidelines and have side effects along with the low treatment success rates. Thus, the WHO recommends substituting pegylated interferon, which is widely used in Russia, with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). However, the process of introducing modern treatment methods in the country is slow.

Thirteen times fewer patients treated

In 2017, only 0.2% of the total estimated number of people with hepatitis C received treatment in Russia. According to the annual report on hepatitis C drugs procurement monitoring in Russia in 2017 published by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition in EECA, last year 9,661 people were able to access the therapy. This coverage is 13 times less than it is required to stop transmission of the disease.

“Low coverage is due to the low interest of the state. All the activities in response to hepatitis C are the initiatives of the regions. There is no targeted funding or actions to eliminate hepatitis at the national level. Another part of the problem is the pricing policy of the corporations, which are monopolists on the market. In our country, their drugs are protected by patents and they are free to set any prices they want to,” comments Sergey Golovin from the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition in EECA.

As estimated by the Coalition, the cost of therapy with DAAs varies from about 480 thousand to one million Russian roubles. In Russia, the cost of drugs is much higher than in Brazil, India, Argentina or Thailand.

“Many countries made a decision to eliminate hepatitis C. Developed countries offer treatment with modern drugs to all people who need it. In some developing countries, patent owners allowed companies to produce and sell copies of their drugs (generics) at very low prices. As for Russia, it got stuck somewhere between the developed and developing countries,” explains Sergey Golovin.

No action plan

Meeting of civil society experts in hepatitis C at EECAAС2018.

In 2016, the WHO approved the Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on Viral Hepatitis for the period of 2016-2022. The Strategy is aimed at eliminating the epidemic of hepatitis by 2030 through the reduction of new cases by 90%. The document has been signed by all member states, including the Russian Federation. However, there is still no action plan at the country level.

For quite a while, representatives of patients’ organizations have been calling on the government to adopt a National Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which should be adopted by Russia in line with the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis and the World Health Assembly Resolution on Viral Hepatitis.

According to Aleksey Lakhov, Advocacy Officer of Together Against Hepatitis NGO, implementation of the Strategy will allow raising the awareness on viral hepatitis prevention and in general improving the system of epidemiological surveillance and control over hepatitis transmission in Russia.

Such Strategy should contain a set of measures aimed at improving hepatitis C diagnostics and detection as well as clear indicators of reducing hepatitis C incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates and covering patients with therapy based on the modern treatment standards.

Children with Tuberculosis and HIV Do Not Have Access to Education in Tajikistan

Children with HIV and TB do not have access to education in Tajik schools

Author: Nargis Hamrabaeva, Tajikistan

10-year-old Zarina (the name is changed) is from Dushanbe. The girl has a double diagnosis: HIV and tuberculosis. Zarina has never studied anywhere.

Her mother learned she was HIV-positive during the pregnancy. She received her HIV-positive status from her husband. The girl’s father died of AIDS several years ago, and her mother got married again. The stepfather did not accept Zarina, and that is why she lives with her grandmother.

When Zarina turned seven, the grandmother sent her to the first grade in one of the schools in Dushanbe, but the director said the school could not accept the girl, explaining that “she was sick and could infect other children with tuberculosis.”. Therefore, Zarina has not been studying anywhere for three years. The guardianship and trusteeship bodies never asked why the girl did not go to school.

The dialogue that never happened

Human rights activists found out about Zarina’s case and tried to help the family. The representatives of the Tajik network of women living with HIV and the public fund Your Choice approached the officials of the Ministry of Education to find out whether there was a mechanism for providing access to education for such children, but they faced a wall of misunderstanding.

“We were asked to leave the office. The Ministry representatives said that we lied, that there were no such cases, that all children were receiving education, and that we, representatives of non-governmental organizations, only traveled abroad and tarnished the country’s image before the international community. The dialogue never happened,” says Larisa Aleksandrova, representative of the public fund Your Choice.

According to her, children with a double diagnosis of HIV and tuberculosis do not have access to compulsory secondary education in Tajikistan.

“The revealed fact confirms that education officials improperly monitor and keep track of children who do not attend school due to tuberculosis, and they also do not provide these children with the opportunity to receive education at home, the so-called family form of education or homeschool. Although, according to the Health Code, the authorized body in the field of education is obliged to develop programs for getting education at home or in the hospital,” says Larisa Aleksandrova.

With discrimination and without statistics

Larisa Aleksandrova, representative of the public fund Your Choice

The human rights activists are sure that Zarina’s case makes the situation with discrimination of children living with HIV in an educational institution clear.

“The Law on education states that educators should keep track of children of preschool and school age, and monitor their education prior until they complete the compulsory education. In Tajikistan, a nine-year education is compulsory. However, the Law does not define the mechanism for identifying children not covered by compulsory education,” says Larisa Aleksandrova.

The number of children with tuberculosis and HIV who do not have access to education in the country is not known. The Ministry of Education of Tajikistan said that they do not keep such statistics.

Red Ribbon Day kick-started the International AIDS Conference

King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima attend the Red Ribbon Concert. Source: www.koninklijkhuis.nl

Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

Red Ribbon Day on May 16 2018, was a kick-off to a summer focused on HIV/AIDS which culminates with the International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, July 23-27. The events that took place during the day were aimed at raising awareness of the global AIDS epidemic, bringing people together and acknowledging the progress made in combatting the problem. Red ribbon symbolizes solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS and was chosen as an appropriate symbol for this special day.

During the day, a “Youth Campaign Lab” was organized for youth volunteers to generate a youth-led campaign on HIV, AIDS, and SHRH. The event organized by Amsterdam Youth Force and Dance4Life turned out to be a huge success. Youth volunteers came up with brilliant ideas to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic. At the end of the day, the ideas were presented to the Dutch princess Mabel Wisse Smit. Princess Mabel was very impressed by the creativity of the youth participants. She also stressed the importance of involving young people in solving the issue of the AIDS epidemic.

“HIV and AIDS are a huge problem among young people around the world. Of course, no one knows better how to reach young people than the young people themselves. The positive energy of these change makers was very enjoyable to see,” said princess Mabel.

The executive director of AFEW International Anke van Dam told the Queen of the Netherlands about the situation with HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

On the evening of May 16, King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima attended the Red Ribbon Concert at AFAS Live in Amsterdam to draw attention to the persistent problem of the HIV epidemic. The concert was successful in gaining broad attention for the international AIDS response. The theme of the evening was: AIDS is not over… but it can be! It was a moment for the HIV/AIDS field and community to come together and to recognize the progress made in the fight. The concert was organized by the Dutch organizations collaborating on the AIDS2018 conference. And, it took place during the week of AIDS Memorial Day. The line-up brought together musicians and artists from across the world and from a variety of backgrounds to highlight the diversity.

At the concert, the Pop Up Aids-Expo was launched. The Royal Couple visited a pop-up expo prior to the concert to learn about the stories of people from all over the world who live with HIV. This mobile exhibition will travel through the country in the coming months. The concert and the exhibition are the preludes to the International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 that will take place in Amsterdam this summer. The conference will bring together 20,000 people, including people living with HIV, AIDS activists, top international scientists and doctors.