Chase the virus, not the people! Campaign at AIDS 2018

Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) remains the only region in the world where new HIV cases and AIDS deaths continue to grow rapidly. Low access to treatment, repressive legislation, stigma and discrimination of key populations, as well as the unwillingness of states to finance and ensure the sustainability of prevention programs in the EECA region, hinder an effective response to the epidemic.

The response to HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia will only be successful if decriminalization, destigmatization, zero discrimination and demedicalization are recognized as key needs of the communities. These aspects require comprehensive support from the global community, enhanced partnerships and immediate action by all stakeholders.

One of the AIDS 2018 objectives is to spotlight the state of the epidemic and the HIV response in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It’s the right time and place to attract the attention of the whole world to the region and communities’ actions and to support them.

Therefore we, the team of regional community networks*, are joining forces in the campaign at AIDS 2018. Our slogan – Chase the virus, not people! Our goal is to present to the world the impact of repressive, discriminatory laws and practices of their application, as well as stigma against key populations and people living with HIV. To achieve obligations to create an enabling legal environment and to involve key populations and people living with HIV in decision-making processes. We are ready to show the negative consequences of the reduction in international support and to seek global assistance to mobilize resources for stabilizing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the EECA region.

“Chase the virus, not people!” campaign aims at the common needs of all key populations and focuses on achieving the goals in general and for each community in particular.

The campaign key attribute is handcuffs, as a symbol of limited freedom and actions.

Support the campaign and the EECA region at AIDS 2018 and join its actions!

 How to support and join the campaign:

– insert the logo of our campaign into one of the slides of your presentation at the conference;

– bring handcuffs and put them on during the campaign events (number of handcuffs from organizers is limited);

– join the campaign during the March, the opening of the Global Village, the opening/closing sessions, plenaries on July 24 and 26, and the activities in EECA Networking Zone in the Global Village (pavilion 515);

– support flash mob – every day (time will be announced) in different parts of the Global Village;

– take a picture in handcuffs at the conference and place a photo with the hashtag of the campaign in social networks:

#chasethevirus

#chasevirus

#chasethevirusnotpeople

#chasevirusnotpeople.

Check the schedule of the campaign events and activities at www.chasevirus.org starting from July 7, 2018.

It’s time for joint actions!

*EECA communities team: Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM), East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO), EECA Sex Workers’ Alliance, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD), Eurasian Union of Adolescents and Youth “Teenergizer”, Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS (EWNA), Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN). Organizational partner – AFEW International (the Netherlands).

 

 

Sex-Workers in Russia – for Effective HIV Prevention

In 2015, the Sex-Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SWAN) conducted a study ‘Failures of Justice’

Author: Anastasia Petrova, Russia

Sex-workers are one of the groups that are vulnerable to HIV. There are no government programs aimed at working with this category in Russia. According to Russian Federal Consumer Rights Protection and Human Health Control Service, over the past two years the way of sexual transmission of HIV has become more prominent: in 50.3% of instances, the positive status was received during heterosexual contacts. According to a study conducted by the Open Health Institute in 2017, the percentage of sex workers with HIV varies from 1.3% to 8.9%, depending on the region. In cases when sex work is combined with drug use, up to 15% of people become HIV-positive.

Epidemic of Violence

Sex-workers are vulnerable to HIV for a number of reasons. They have limited access to medical, legal and social services, information and prevention means. However, the most significant factor is violence from partners, clients, administrators, and police officers.

In 2015, the Sex-Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SWAN) conducted a study ‘Failures of Justice’. The community on its own studied violence against sex workers. The study showed that 28% of girls in Russia were physically abused, and 4.8% – sexually abused by the police.

According to the study, the above statistics directly correlate with the HIV incidence rate among sex workers. Persecution by the police deprives sex workers of the opportunity to work in safe conditions, choose clients, or use condoms at every contact.

Unique HIV prevention project

Involving community representatives in the project work is the basis for effective prevention. In addition to highlighting services of prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a lot of emphasis is placed on strengthening the community and increasing the legal literacy of sex workers

The Silver Rose, a movement of sex workers and their supporters, has been fighting against violence since 2003. Today, the movement unites 450 sex worker leaders in more than 35 regions of the Russian Federation. Under the guidance of the leader Irina Maslova, the Silver Rose, using their own resources, are implementing a unique for Russia HIV prevention project aimed at this key group. The girls are provided with condoms, referrals to trusted doctors, and psychological and legal assistance; they are taught how to protect themselves from HIV and violence.

For instance, during March – December 2017, the Silver Rose implemented on its own the project ‘Bridging the Gaps’ in the framework of the Program on Expanding Access of Vulnerable Groups to HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment and Support Services in the Russian Federation. 1509 people were tested for HIV in the course of the 9 months’ work.

Involving community representatives in the project work is the basis for effective prevention. In addition to highlighting services of prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a lot of emphasis is placed on strengthening the community and increasing the legal literacy of sex workers. Girls must learn to defend themselves in the face of a constant threat of violence.

“Now this is not a project any more, but a program instead,” says Irina Maslova, referring to the continuity with which the movement helps sex workers. “These processes continue, even if funding ends. Now, at the completion of projects supported with grants of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, we are thinking about the transition to self-financing.”

Current Legislation Does Not Solve Problems

As of today, the legislation of the Russian Federation triggers and promotes discrimination of sex workers as well as human rights violations. Sex work is punished under administrative and criminal codes. The Code on Administrative Offenses prohibits “Prostitution” (Article 6.11) and “Receiving income from prostitution if this income is associated with another person’s prostitution activity” (Article 6.12).

However, this discriminatory legislation poses more problems than it solves since it deprives sex workers of fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of assembly on issues of healthcare and HIV prevention. Sex workers remain vulnerable to humiliation and violence from clients, as well as to abuse from the police.

For this very reason, introducing amendments to the legislation and repeal of Article 6.11 have long been the main goal of the work of the Silver Rose movement in general and Irina Maslova in particular. After all, the repeal of the mentioned article, according to experts, will promote the observance of the rights of sex workers since they will not be afraid to turn to the police for help in cases of maltreatment or violence from clients. Decriminalization will also help sex workers self-organise to protect their rights, health and life.

Key Asks from Tuberculosis Stakeholders and Communities for the United Nations High Level Meeting

The five tuberculosis (TB) “Key Asks” announced by stakeholders and communities are priority actions that have been developed through a combined extensive engagement with the global TB stakeholders and communities, including the United Nations (UN) agencies, high-burden TB countries, donors, civil society, people affected by TB, and the private sector. It is crucial that the aspiration of the TB Stakeholders and Communities are considered to inform the content of the Zero Draft and the subsequent final Political Declaration that will be endorsed at the UN High-level Meeting (UNHLM) on September 26th to achieve the goal of ending TB by 2030.

Through the Sustainable Development Goals and their endorsement of the World Health Organisation (WHO) End TB Strategy, UN member states have committed to ending the TB epidemic by 2030. However, at the current rate of progress, this will not be achieved for at least another 150 years. Without immediate concrete action, an estimated 28 million people will die from TB by 2030, at a global economic cost of USD$1 trillion. The case for ending the TB epidemic is clear. Every dollar spent on TB could return benefits to society worth US$43.

The following priority actions must be taken by Heads of State and Governments to accelerate progress and achieve the goal of ending TB:

  1. Reach all people by closing the gaps in TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention
  2. Transform the TB response to be equitable, rights-based, and people-centered
  3. Accelerate development of essential new tools to end TB
  4. Invest the funds necessary to end TB
  5. Commit to decisive and accountable global leadership, including regular UN reporting and review

 

Source: http://stoptb.org

Vladimir Kurpita: “Dnipro Will Become the Third City in Ukraine to Join the Fast-Track Cities Initiative”

Vladimir Kurpita thinks that the Fast-Track Cities initiative allows drawing public attention and raising additional funding for the HIV response

Author: Yana Kazmirenko, Ukraine

To learn about the benefits for the Ukrainian cities joining the Fast-Track Cities initiative and about the expectations from AIDS 2018 conference to be held in Amsterdam, read the interview with Vladimir Kurpita, Head of the Public Health Centre of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. According to him, though Ukraine is one of the leading countries in terms of the number of people living with HIV, the government does its best to cover such people with treatment.

– What successes and challenges of Ukraine related to HIV response will be presented at the XXII International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam (AIDS 2018)?

– Today Ukraine is the second country in the European region with the biggest number of people living with HIV. Only Russia is ahead of us. In our country, there are over 230 thousand people living with HIV, while 146 thousand have been diagnosed with HIV and receive care. The HIV epidemic in Ukraine is a problem of big cities, industrial metropolises and is still concentrated in the key populations (people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, sex workers). The issue of HIV is in the focus of attention in our country. Currently, the seventh national HIV programme is implemented, which is a result of the effective cooperation among the international partners, governmental agencies, and civil society organizations. The governmental policies may be illustrated with the fact that Ukraine is one of the few post-Soviet countries where prevention programmes, in particular, the opioid substitution treatment programme, are funded from the national and local state budgets.

The issue of detecting new HIV patients who are not aware of their diagnosis is on our agenda. In particular, we change the testing algorithms and are ready to intensively promote self-testing. A significant achievement is the fact that people already know that they can live with HIV.

 – Today, over 90 thousand people receive HIV treatment in Ukraine, and it is expected that this coverage will be increased to 196 thousand people by 2020. What will help to make it happen?

– As of 1 April 2018, over 98 thousand people received HIV treatment in Ukraine. We are actively scaling up access to treatment. Currently, the therapy is offered in more than 300 healthcare institutions and in 100 places of confinement. In 2014-2016, there were certain problems with access to antiretroviral treatment at the local level, but now the situation has been improved.

Ukrainian patients have access to innovative drugs. Besides, the cost of treatment is reduced through the use of generic drugs. Today, the average cost of treatment course is less than USD 200 a year. Now the treatment is easier both for the doctor and the patient. If the treatment is initiated on time, one pill a day will be enough.

The healthcare reform in Ukraine stipulates that testing and prescription of the first treatment scheme may be provided by the family doctor or the general practitioner. Of course, such changes require some time. There is a need to overcome fears and concerns from the side of patients and improve the level of knowledge and expertise among doctors. However, without changing the existing standards we will not be able to provide treatment to such high number of patients.

– The WHO guidelines state that to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic among people who inject drugs, 20 thousand people should receive opioid substitution therapy. Now there are 11 thousand people who receive such therapy in Ukraine…

– Opioid substitution treatment (OST) is the most effective method to prevent HIV among people who inject opioid drugs. In the recent several years, Ukraine made a big progress in scaling up the OST programmes: approaches in the government policies were changes, the number of healthcare institutions offering such treatment was increased, and we were the first in our region who started providing OST using the state budget funds. However, OST is still a high-threshold treatment method as only narcologists may prescribe it and to be prescribed with the therapy one needs to be registered with drug treatment facilities. The patients are concerned about their security and confidentiality, they are afraid that their data may be given to law enforcement bodies. Besides, it should be mentioned that OST is a therapy to treat opioid dependence. Changing drug scene, with the growing use of stimulants, salts and other synthetic drugs, requires application of other methods in addition to methadone and buprenorphine. That is why the goal of the state policy is not to increase the number of patients, but to provide access to OST to all patients who need such therapy and are eligible.

Currently, together with our colleagues from the National Police, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, civil society and international organizations we work to change the approaches and implement innovative models to scale up OST (e.g., in places of confinement) and study the experience of pilot projects in some regions of our country, where OST programmes are managed by family doctors.

 – In Ukraine, Kyiv and Odesa joined the Fast-Track Cities initiative to accelerate the AIDS response. Have they achieved any results?

– The Fast-Track Cities initiative allows drawing public attention and raising additional funding for the programme. When the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, is talking about the response to the HIV epidemic, people trust him, they seek care, get tested, start treatment, and thus the municipal authorities are able to control the epidemic. It is also important that both in Kyiv and in Odesa the local authorities approved new plans and objectives for the municipal AIDS programmes and allocated additional funding from the municipal budgets. Besides, participation in this initiative allowed attracting additional funding from the international donors.

 – What other Ukrainian cities are going to join the initiative?

– Hopefully, the next city to join the initiative will be Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk – author’s note). Dnipropetrovsk region is already leading in terms of the number of patients who receive treatment. In the region, there are 15 thousand people who are on treatment, which is 1/6 of all the patients in Ukraine.

NOhep Guide for Medical Professionals Published

NOhep Guide for Medical Professionals: 5 principles for taking action to eliminate viral hepatitis was recently announced at the Global Hepatitis Summit. Developed by the NOhep Visionaries Steering Group, comprised of leading healthcare professionals across the world, the guide offers practical guidance and resources to equip and empower medical professionals to take action to meet the 2030 elimination targets.

Medical Professionals are the gatekeepers to elimination and have a powerful role in achieving the public health approach needed to meet the 2030 goals. Whether it is in a hospital, a clinic or a community outreach center, everyone can play a part in eliminating viral hepatitis.

To receive more information and resources from the NOhep Visionaries Programme, sign up here.

You can download the guide here.

Source: http://www.nohep.org

Needs and gaps in treatment and rehabilitation for people who use drugs in selected countries of EECA

Report on the needs and gaps in treatment and rehabilitation for people who use drugs in selected countries of EECA

This report presents the results of an assessment on the availability of and access to treatment and rehabilitation services for people who use drugs (PWUD) in selected countries of the Eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) region. It was carried out through a regional approach developed by the AFEW Network within the programme ‘Bridging the Gaps: health and rights for key populations. Phase 2’, fi­nanced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

The assessment focused primarily on the topics of rehabilitation and human rights. AFEW International was responsible for information at the international level, whilst regional level assessments focused on EECA countries where the AFEW Network implements the project amongst PWUD, namely, Georgia, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. We expect the results of this assessment will be used to improve the current situation with access to treatment and rehabilitation services for PWUD in the EECA region, particularly in those countries in which the AFEW Network works. Findings from this analysis of existing gaps, this assessment represents the fi­rst step to developing rehabilitation services and human rights under the AFEW regional approach. Furthermore, the ­findings will inform the development of pilot projects on advocacy, service delivery or capacity building and the continuous monitoring of results.

The full version of the report is available here.

AFEW’s Chair of the Board Jeffrey Lazarus Steps Down

Jeffrey Lazarus

After three years as Chair of AFEW International’s Board, Professor Jeffrey Lazarus has stepped down on 1 June 2018. Many positive dynamic changes happened during his tenure. AFEW gained financial stability, renewed its board with community members, increased gender equity and cemented its position as a leading NGO in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

Jeffrey Lazarus joined AFEW right after its re-organisation into a network with members in five EECA countries. AFEW was still negotiating the second phase of ‘Bridging the Gaps: health and rights for key populations’ project, which ultimately ensured financial sustainability for five years.

“Jeff Lazarus changed many things with regards to our Board. During these three years, AFEW’s board had more meetings and more involvement. During Jeff’s chairmanship, our organisation has gone through many important changes. We changed the location of our office in Amsterdam, our name, our logo and our statutes. These were all basic requirements to prepare AFEW for the future, for the next level in our work. Thanks to Jeff, we have got more visibility and more connections,” says AFEW International’s executive director Anke van Dam.

During his three years, Jeff provided needed input into AFEW’s strategies to improving access to health services – including hepatitis C – for key populations at risk.

Jeffrey V. Lazarus continues as an associated researcher at ISGlobal, Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona and an affiliate professor at CHIP, Rigshospitalet, the University of Copenhagen, a WHO Collaborating Centre on HIV and Viral Hepatitis and will take on new duties as the first Vice-Chair of the EASL International Liver Foundation

“When I was at World Health Organisation a decade ago, the AIDS Foundation East-West (that now became AFEW International) was one of our most important non-governmental partners. I never imagined that one day I would become Chair of the Board and help shepherd in a new era where AFEW International solidified its leading role as an organisation working for the improved health of the most marginalised and vulnerable populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” says Jeffrey Lazarus.

AFEW International wishes Jeffrey Lazarus all the best in his important work to improve the health and quality of life of marginalised populations.

Expert: Polygamy Increases the Risk of the HIV Spread in Tajikistan

Author: Nargis Khamrabaeva, Tajikistan

Polygamy is one of the main factors contributing to the rapid spread of HIV in Tajikistan. This is stated in the research of the Tajik network of women living with HIV. In 2018, this network in cooperation with the public fund Your Choice conducted a review of the legal environment in relation to HIV.

Protection of rights regardless of the status

In Tajikistan, polygamy is officially prohibited and is punishable by a fine of two years of correctional labour. However, as the religious influence on the society increases, many men have several wives. The second and subsequent marriages are not registered but are consecrated by a mullah and normally wives do not live in one house.

“The committee on the elimination of discrimination against women called on Tajikistan to ensure the protection of women’s rights in existing polygamous and religious marriages regardless of their registration status,” says Larisa Aleksandrova who represents the public fund Your Choice and acts as a gender and legal consultant of the research.

According to the expert, polygamy has negative consequences in relation to HIV. First of all, in sexual relations women in Tajikistan usually do not have the right to make a decision to use condoms. Women are not able to counteract the unsafe pattern of men’s intimate behavior. According to the statistics on HIV, programmes promoting safe sexual behavior and family planning are not successful. They also do not have impact on men and youth.

Undisclosed  information is a threat to unofficial wives

Larisa Aleksandrova says that another problem is that men living with HIV prohibit their wives to go to the hospital for treatment.

Larisa Aleksandrova, representative of the public fund Your Choice, gender and legal consultant of the research

“One of the reasons why men have such behavior is the fear of public disclosure of their HIV status. Another reason is additional expenses on the treatment of the spouse, who usually is being financially taken care of by the husband. In many cases, such behavior led to the death of women,” tells the expert.

Besides that, polygamous men living with HIV infect all their spouses. During consultations in the AIDS Centre, they often choose not to tell that they have several wives because polygamy is a criminal offence. Therefore, undisclosed information becomes a threat to the lives of unofficial wives. They simply will not know about their status and will not be able to receive the treatment.

“Polygamy is a major risk for the spread of HIV. In 2017, in the town of Nurek a lawyer defended the interests of a woman who contracted HIV from her husband. She demanded compensation for moral and material damage due to the transmission of HIV. The investigation showed that the woman’s husband had a second wife who had died of tuberculosis. After that, according to the Muslim traditions, the man got remarried for the third time. He was seen together with his new spouse in the AIDS Center in Nurek where both of them were receiving antiretroviral therapy. It is possible that the third wife already was HIV-positive as well”, tells Larisa Aleksandrova.

This is not an individual incident. When interviewing women living with HIV, some respondents said that their husbands had second wives, and in most cases, they found out about it when they got to know about their positive HIV status.

 

Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in Kyrgyzstan is Minimal

Now about half of the money allocated by Kyrgyzstan for the HIV component goes to the procurement of test kits for pregnant women

Author: Olga Ochneva, Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is getting prepared to receive a certificate to confirm elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In the last five years, over 95% of pregnant women were covered with prevention projects, while the new cases of vertical HIV transmission are now at the level of 2%.

Testing is an integral part of prevention

Since 2007, all pregnant women have been tested for HIV when registered in maternity care. In case of a positive result, the woman is registered with HIV treatment facilities and receives consultations on the need of antiretroviral treatment (ART).

“A good, easy-to-understand consultation leads to the woman giving her voluntary consent to the therapy initiation. There are rare cases when women refuse treatment due to the lack of knowledge or religious beliefs, but most often – due to their self-stigmatization. The share of such refusals is now less than 2%,” says Erkin Tostokov, physician working at the Prevention Unit of the Republican AIDS Centre. “There are some cases when a woman is first seen by the doctor only when she delivers her baby. For such women, we do rapid HIV testing in the maternity clinics and, if HIV is confirmed, we hand out ART drugs right there. We update our clinical protocols in line with the most recent WHO guidelines and train our doctors on a regular basis.”

Children born to HIV-positive mothers go through several stages of examination: early diagnostics to identify if the foetus is infected intra uterine; then within 4-6 weeks doctors have to exclude HIV transmission during the delivery; and the last test allows detecting the HIV status of the infant after the breastfeeding is completed. Children receive preventive ARV therapy depending on their risk level and receive monthly social benefits during the whole period until final confirmation/non-confirmation of the diagnosis (up to 18 months).

Social benefits for children living with HIV

Elena learned that she had HIV in 2011. In a while, the woman found out that she was pregnant. Back then, she was in a difficult situation: no job, no place to live, and no money. The woman felt lost because of her HIV status.

“The doctor prescribed ART and I started taking the pills, though before I refused to take the therapy because of my allergy,” Elena recalls. “When my daughter was born, she received preventive therapy for two months. When my girl was 18 months, the doctors did the last test and took her off the register as she was perfectly healthy. However, I was still scared and took her for HIV testing until she was four years old.”

Now about half of the money allocated by the state for the HIV component goes to the procurement of test kits for pregnant women. The government provides social benefits for children living with HIV and free breast milk substitutes.

“In the recent 7-8 years, our programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV achieved a big progress: the share of such transmission was reduced from nine to one percent,” says Aybek Bekbolotov, Deputy Director of the Republican AIDS Centre. “To a great extent, this result was achieved through the efforts of doctors working in general and maternity clinics. Now there is almost no pregnant woman whom we miss. All maternity clinics have been provided with rapid HIV tests and ART drugs. We received a strong support from UNICEF. They provided training to doctors, supported the launch of early diagnostics in newborns and rapid testing in maternity clinics. Now they help us to get prepared to receive the certificate of having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV. A country can get such a certificate provided that the rate of vertical transmission is less than 2% and if over 95% of pregnant women have been covered with prevention programmes in the recent two years. There are certain requirements to indicators and procedures to calculate such data, and now we are working on meeting them.”

Support and training in the summer camp

Currently, there are 478 children with HIV registered in care, 464 of them receive treatment. Every year, summer camps are held for children living with HIV with UNICEF support. This year, this event will be brought to the international level for the first time.

“In July, there will be a one-week summer camp for children, parents, doctors and social workers from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. There will be trainers from the UK, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy,” tells Aybek Bekbolotov. “The camp will include several parallel events: a forum for adolescents living with HIV and their parents, workshop for pediatric medical staff and training for psychologists and social workers.”

Medical and social workers will be trained to work with children living with HIV, while children and their parents will develop support and leadership skills and are expected to form a new community.

19 June: Second Edition of EECA Food and Art Night in Amsterdam

The second edition of PLOV ARTxFOODxCINEMA is coming to Amsterdam on 19 of June. Culinary experiences and cinematographic impressions of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia will come together during the event organised by the AFEW Culture Initiative in collaboration with the partners IDFA and Studio/K.

PROGRAMME

▹ 16.00 – 22.00: Four visual artists-in-residence (AiRs), Hanna Zubkova (Minsk/Paris), Hassan Kurbanbaev (Tashkent), Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov (Moscow) and Lado Darakhvelidze (Kutaisi/Arnhem) showcasing their ongoing artistic projects.

▹ 18.00 – 19.45: Two-course dinner (Armenian ajab sandal/ajapsandali (summer stew) and Georgian khachapuri (cheese pastry).

▹ 19.45 – 22.00: Documentary screening ‘When the Earth Seems to Be Light’ by Salome Machaidze, Tamuna Karumidze and David Meskhi (Georgia, 2015) & Q&A.

“Revolutionary skaters wreaking havoc in the streets of Tbilisi, stories of a vacated Red Light District brothel, photographic footage of Tashkent’s revolutionary youth, vegetarian-friendly Armenian Summer stews, popular mythologies of HIV/AIDS in a post-Soviet world, medicines vs poison, ChemSex and ‘slamming’ subcultures of Amsterdam, queer visibility in contemporary Uzbekistan and an explosion of dairy and cheese à la Georgian. These are just some of the ingredients of PLOV #2.

Young Georgian skaters, artists and musicians feel trapped between the powers of the Church and the political world. They create their own open spaces beneath viaducts and at other “non-places” that lend themselves to romantic notions of a free existence. Questions are posed to them about God, love and freedom, but these boys would much rather just be skating – for many of them it has grown into an obsession. They may be unfazed by painful falls, but narrow-mindedness really gets to them. One of them was bullied because of his hairstyle, and he explains that Georgians simply won’t accept people who look different. Many of their friends share their bleak vision of their country. The way they see it, Georgia is all about the old rather than the new. They get no acknowledgement here, so they spend their evenings throwing Molotov cocktails at a concrete slope. Their tattoos are “a diary you can’t escape from. You tattoo what you feel; what’s important for you at that moment.” The portraits of the skaters are based on a series of photos by David Meskhi, one of the three directors. This impression of their daily lives is intercut with news footage of demonstrations in Georgia.”

[Georgian language, English subtitles]

TICKETS

– Open atelier/showcase space is free of charge.
– Ticket €20,00 for dinner + documentary.
– Ticket €15,00 for dinner only.
– Ticket €9,50 for documentary only.

* Ask about student discounts when reserving.
** Cineville Pass discounts accepted [only pay for dinner option].

For reservations, please call 020 692 0422 (Studio /K) or email the AFEW Culture Initiative at judith_kreukels@AFEW.nl.

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