Deadline Extended: AIDS 2018 – Call for Volunteers Speaking Russian

AFEW International with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs implements a range of activities to empower Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), activists, policy makers, stakeholders, researchers and clinicians from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region to take part in the XXII International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam (AIDS2018).

Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only region in the world where the AIDS epidemic is on a steep rise. Whereas the whole world celebrates 50% decrease in the new cases of HIV, the EECA region has experienced almost 60% increase in annual new HIV infections between 2010 and 2015. In 2015, there were an estimated 1.5 million people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The vast majority (85%) of people living with HIV in the region live in Russia and Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the EECA region has traditionally been underrepresented at the AIDS conferences. For instance, at the last International AIDS Conference in Durban, there were only 128 delegates from EECA region. Several barriers such as the costs of participation and language barrier led to a disproportionally lower presence of the delegates from EECA region at the AIDS conferences since its start.

As one of the means to tackle the language barrier AFEW International comes up with an initiative to build up a pool of language buddies – a group of enthusiastic people residing in the Netherlands, speaking English and Russian (the common language for the EECA region) who are willing to support delegates from EECA at the Conference.

Commitments:

  • You are available for volunteer work during the whole duration of the AIDS 2018 Conference, from 23 till 27 July 2018, and, if interested, available for preparatory work a week in advance prior to the conference.
  • You are available for three and a half days of up to four hours a day to volunteer on general tasks at the AIDS 2018 under coordination of the Volunteer Programme of the International AIDS Society, the conference Organizer.
  • Apart from the general tasks you are willing to be involved with language support to individuals and groups of delegates from the EECA region at the AIDS 2018 sessions, workshops, exhibition, Global Village, and other activities of the conference. Language support can take form of providing support in communication between delegates from EECA with other delegates – for instance in the Global Village area; whisper translation for small groups in some sessions; helping to find directions in the conference venue; etc.
  • The total amount of working time will not exceed 6 hours per day. The shift can start as early as 7 am and finish as late as 9:30 pm.

Language buddy qualification requirements:

  • You are older than 18 years old.
  • You have a good command of English and Russian. Dutch is an asset.
  • You are disciplined and responsible.
  • You are outgoing and interested in people from different background and cultures.
  • It is an asset if you have experience in dealing with sensitive issues when it comes to working with key groups such as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, people living with HIV, people using drugs, and any other specific features in people.

What you get as a volunteer:

  • As an AIDS 2018 volunteer, you will be able to attend the full conference programme outside of your volunteer shifts. This means you will have access to the full conference, such as the exhibition, satellite programme, plenaries and regular session as well as the workshops and other events and the possibility to network with higher officials from the international organisations.
  • Food vouchers will be provided for all the days you are volunteering at AIDS 2018.
  • A free crash course on language sensitivity will be provided a few weeks before the conference which will give you the advantage to freshen up your Russians skills, will help to feel confident with the specific vocabulary of the AIDS 2018 and provide opportunities to interact with peers.
  • There is no travel compensation, all commute costs to the Conference venue will be your responsibility.

Attention! Dealine extended! If you are ready to support as language buddy volunteer, please fill in this google form before 10 April 2018, and we will get in touch with you with further details. 

The AIDS 2018 Conference will take place at the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre. Address: Europaplein 2-22, 1078 GZ Amsterdam.

Vinay Saldanha: Treatment should be Provided to all HIV-positive People

Author: Anastasia Petrova, Russia

This year, the issue of treatment coverage for people living with HIV has been broadly discussed in Russia on World AIDS Day. We are talking on this topic with Vinay Patrick Saldanha, Director, Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), UNAIDS.

– Mister Saldanha, today at the press conference, organised by the movement Patient Control, we heard that in Russia only up to one third of all people living with HIV receive treatment. What measures are to be taken to reverse the situation?

– A hard and fast decision is to be taken on adopting the ‘test and treat’ strategy. In line with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, which have already been used for several years, all people with the HIV status should get uninterrupted and high-quality treatment. At the same time, treatment guidelines issued by the Russian Ministry of Health state that priority in treatment should be given to the patients with the immune status below 500 СD4 cells. Thus, with the limited access to drugs, doctors have to prescribe therapy to those who have the weakest immunity and open the so-called waiting lists. In many regions, the situation is critical.

Now in Russia there are mass HIV testing campaigns. However, to motivate people to get tested the second part of the strategy – the ‘treat’ component – should also be offered. If a person is concerned as he had some questionable contacts or he knows that his sexual partner is HIV positive, it means a direct risk of infection. It would be very good for such person to check his HIV status. However, if he knows in advance that he would not get treatment and that the AIDS centres have the “waiting lists,” he will not be highly motivated to get tested. To remove those questions from the agenda, all national governments should adopt the ‘test and treat’ policy. I am happy to say that in Eastern Europe and Central Asia there are quite a few countries, which have already announced following this policy: Armenia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. They treat all patients who test positive: the patient can seek and get help. If Russia wants to achieve the 90/90/90 target by the end of 2020, the decision to ‘test and treat’ is to be taken in 2018.

– A year ago, Russia adopted the State Strategy to Combat the Spread of HIV through 2020. How do you assess its effectiveness?

– The very fact that there is such a strategy is a great achievement. For many years, the epidemiological situation remained complicated due to the lack of a strategy. For the first time, the government issued an important state document calling to urgently accelerate the measures to combat HIV. It is very good that such measures are to be taken not only by the government, but also by the society, mass media, private sector and trade unions.

However, it would be good if people who prepared the Strategy would define clear and measurable targets for each year: what should be the reduction in the new HIV cases, how many patients are to be enrolled to treatment. The five-year goals are defined but how is it possible to split them and follow up on the achievement of interim targets each year?

– Vadim Pokrovsky said that the Strategy does not have a strong financial background…

– It is a question of state priorities. I think that Russia, having the resources and knowing how to distribute them in the best way, is able to find the sufficient funding to combat HIV. This is not just about the budget increase. There are high-quality drugs, which are less expensive than those procured in Russia. Thus, apart from allocating two or three times more money from the state budget, the cost of drugs may also be reduced. In the last two years, thanks to the pro-active approach of the Ministry of Health, an unprecedented reduction in the cost of HIV treatment in Russia was observed. Such price reduction strategy shall be continued until all patients have access to drugs. My estimate is that in the EECA region the cost of treatment should not exceed 200 US dollars per patient.

– Speaking about price reduction, do you mean compulsory licensing?

– This as well. When compulsory licenses were discussed for the first time, the Russian government represented by the Ministry of Health was concerned that the foreign pharmaceutical companies may leave our country, stop the clinical trials and Russia would be excluded from the innovations. I know over 15 countries in the world, which issued compulsory licences for HIV drugs. In none of those cases, none of the pharmaceutical companies ceased their activities in such countries. Vice versa, such policy led to sharper price declines and scaled up access to treatment. That is why I strongly welcome the discussion of this question at all levels.

One option is to issue a license to produce drugs in the country and another is to facilitate the procurement of quality drugs from abroad at lower prices. Thus, Brazil, for example, for 20 years was famous for producing most “first line” drugs for its citizens. However, three years ago, even before the WHO guidelines were issued, it was the first country to make a decision to treat all people living with HIV. After all the costs were calculated, it became clear that such coverage could not be reached if only locally produced medicines are used. Then the country started purchasing generic medicine from Indian brand producers for 400 US dollars per patient a year. It is a very interesting example of how access to high-quality medicine may be ensured without violating the patent rights.

– Surely, you will take part in the XXII International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam next year. What are your plans for this event?

– We have a joint plan for two very important conferences: VI Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference (EECAAC 2018) and the XXII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam next year. As UNAIDS, we are co-organizers of the ЕССААС 2018 and members of the AIDS 2018 Committee. We encourage specialists and mass media representatives to not only take an active part but also to build kind of a strategic bridge between those conferences. We would like the international participants to intensively share their experience at ECCAAC 2018 and representatives of the EECA region to broadly present their developments at AIDS 2018.

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.

Michel Kazatchkine Became the Special Advisor to UNAIDS

Michel Kazatchkine joined Undetectable means Untransmittable campaign

United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) Michel Kazatchkine was recently announced to serve as special advisor to UNAIDS for HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C. Such announcement was made by the UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe. The term of Michel Kazatchkine as the Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS is coming to an end.

AFEW International is happy to greet Prof. Michel Kazatchkine with his new position. It is important to have Prof Kazatchkine continue his work as a special advisor to UNAIDS, we believe however that the urgency of three epidemics in the EECA region would have justified a position as UN special envoy for the region. The annual number of new HIV infections in EECA increased with 60% between 2010 and 2016. From all regions in the world, the EECA region is furthest away from reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020. Treatment coverage remains alarmingly low (28%), and less than a quarter of people living with HIV had suppressed viral loads (end-2016). Specific populations, such as men who have sex with men, drug users and sex workers face specific human rights violations, impeding their access to prevention and health services.

AFEW International is also hoping for the support of Prof. Michel Kazatchkine during the 22nd International AIDS Conference that will take place in Amsterdam in 2018. The largest health conference in the world will have a special focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The need and the urgency to show the challenges of the EECA region during the Conference are extremely vital.

Michel Kazatchkine was appointed United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in July 2012. Mr Kazatchkine has devoted thirty years of his professional life to the AIDS response. From 2007 to 2012 he served as the Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and from 1998 to 2005 he was Director of the French National Agency for AIDS Research. Between 2005 and 2007 he served as France’s Global Ambassador for HIV and Communicable Diseases.

IAS is Looking for Global Village and Youth Activity Reviewers and Rapporteurs

International AIDS Society (IAS) is looking for Global Village and Youth Activity (GV&YA) Reviewers and Rapporteurs for 22nd International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam.

GV&YA reviewers will be responsible for reading and revising activity submissions to GV and then recommend their favorites to GV&YP working group. In the document, you can read more about the requirements, such as English fluency, availability, experience in an activity category etc.

GV&YA rapporteurs will be in charge of producing sessions summaries during AIDS 2018, presenting final summaries at the Rapporteur Session, and/or managing other rapporteurs. In the second file, you can learn more about the requirements, such as specific experience in HIV response, English fluency, writing skills, team work abilities etc. Here you can find more about the selection criteria.

All the Reviewer candidates need to provide the following data: 

  1. Name, gender, institution/organization, country, email(s)
  2. Activities (choose one): Exhibition Booth; Networking Zone; Global Village Zone; Cultural Activity.

All the Rapporteur candidates need to provide the following data: 

  1. Name, gender, nationality, institution/organization, professional title, country, telephone, email(s)
  2. Please indicate which committee this person is nominated to cover:

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

Community and Leadership

Global Village and Youth Activities

  1. Is this nomination for Lead Rapporteur (managing other rapporteurs, higher-level responsibilities) or Rapporteur?
  2. English fluency.
  3. Has the nominee previously attended an International AIDS Conference? Has the nominee previously served as a rapporteur for a major conference event?
  4. Which of these groups does the nominee and their organization represent? (check all that apply)

Academia, Advocacy/campaigning, Business/private sector, Children, Community-based, Ex-prisoners, Faith-based, Foundations, Health care worker, Human rights, Indigenous people, Labour, Men who have sex with men, Migrants, NGO, Older persons, People living with HIV, People who use drugs, Persons with disabilities, Public sector/government, Refugee/ displaced persons, Service provider, Sex workers, Transgender/Transsexual, Women, Young people, Other

  1. Nominee’s area of expertise: min. 20 characters.
  2. Brief biography of the nominee: min. 100 characters.

Please, email all the nominations to Nadiia Dubchak nadiiadubchak@gmail.com and Anna Pustovoit pustovoyt.anna99@gmail.com before the 31st of December 2017. 

HIV Voluntary Counselling and Rapid Testing Points in Three More Cities in Tajikistan

Voluntary counselling and rapid HIV testing points (VCT) on the premises of public organizations were opened in three more cities of Tajikistan – Dushanbe, Kulob and Khujand – on December 1, 2017. On this day, voluntary counselling and rapid HIV testing services were launched in public organizations Vita, SVON Plus and Amali nek.

“Opening a VCT point on the premises of our organisation will undoubtedly increase the detection of HIV among the key populations. Our clients and AIDS centres are very much interested in this because the timely treatment will help them to save their health and life,” the director of the public organization Amali nek Abduholik Abdurakhmonov is saying.

Creating HIV voluntary counselling and rapid testing points, namely training of medical personnel, making the reparations, purchasing necessary furniture and equipment, became possible because of the project ‘Bridging the Gaps: Health and Rights for Key Populations 2.0’ and due to the regular consultations with AFEW-Tajikistan’s specialists.

“In 2015, AFEW-Tajikistan appealed to the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Republic of Tajikistan with a proposal to open a VCT point on the premises of the second office of our organisation in Khatlon region. This initiative was approved by the order of the Ministry and since October 2015, all HIV service organizations of the country had the opportunity to introduce the VCT service. Exactly one year ago, on December 1, 2016, the first point that provides voluntary counselling and rapid HIV testing service started its work in the city of Kurgan-Tube. It operates on the premises of our office in Khatlon region. Now our experience helps other public organizations to create and equip similar offices,” the project manager of AFEW-Tajikistan Dilshod Pulatov is sharing.

In April and September 2017, in Qurghonteppa and Khujand, AFEW-Tajikistan organised a seminar and workshop to share the experience of the organisation on the introduction of VCT services on the premises of a public non-profit organization. The participants also studied the procedures for documenting and planning the costs for maintaining VCT points.

“The seminar-meeting on the introduction of VCT service helped me to understand the main stages of work, what documentation is needed, what requirements for equipping the premises are, how to train staff and what the process of budgeting activities is to introduce VCT service,” the director of the Public Association VITA Eraj Nazarov is saying. “AFEW-Tajikistan helped us to renew the premises according to the necessary requirements, and also trained two of our medical workers for providing pre-test counselling and HIV testing services.”

During the opening ceremony of voluntary counselling and rapid HIV testing points, everyone had an opportunity to be counselled and tested for HIV.

European and Central Asian Countries Can End TB Ahead of The Rest of the World

Stop TB Partnership engage with partners in regional meetings in Kazakhstan, Estonia and Belarus

15 December 2017 – Geneva, Switzerland – Stop TB Partnership Secretariat engaged with essential partners to support their efforts and country TB programmes to advance in the fight to end TB in the European Region to prepare the ground for the UN High Level Meeting for TB in 2018.

In just one week, three regional meetings held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in Tallinn, Estonia and Minsk, Belarus put TB in the spotlight in a region that can lead the way towards a world free of TB.  The discussions were centered around migration and migrants and their access to services, how to sustain and expand programmes after donor support ends and how communities, civil society, and networks of people affected by TB can work together.

“It is very impressive. We managed to focus our efforts on Europe this week and we organized and participated in meetings discussing essential aspects if we want to end TB: vulnerable groups, political leadership, domestic financing, and donor support — including the European Commission’s vision, issues around migration, advocacy and civil society engagement and the UN HLM for TB in 2018. The European region benefits from strong TB programmes and health systems, and amazing partners, especially the European Commission, WHO European Region team, ECDC, networks of civil society and communities, TB people as a network of people affected by TB, IFRC, Project HOPE, IOM, as well as UNAIDS and the Global Fund.  As a European, I hope this region will actually end TB before 2030. There is absolutely no reason not to do it,” said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.

 

Migration and TB were front and center in Astana, Kazakhstan, when TB experts, policymakers and advocates convened for the third high-level regional meeting on “Migration and Tuberculosis: Cross-border TB Control and Care in the Central Asian Region.”

The meeting, held 6–7 December, was organized by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Project HOPE, the Global Fund and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with participants from government agencies, national TB programmes and migration authorities from Central Asia; representatives of civil society and communities, experts from the WHO, Stop TB Partnership, IOM, and IFRC.  The event was organized in line with the

 

Comprehensive Plan to Fight TB in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2014-2020, which calls for activities to address TB among migrants and expand their access to services, as well as the programme “Addressing Cross-border Control of TB, MDR/XDR-TB and TB/HIV among Labor Migrants in the Republic of Kazakhstan” implemented by Project HOPE and funded by the Global Fund. The meeting advanced the regional dialogue on migration matters between Kazakhstan and neighboring countries in Central Asia. The dialogue takes place on a mutually beneficial basis, towards signing of bilateral agreements for effective regional cooperation on cross-border control, prevention, and care of TB in the region.

TALLINN, ESTONIA

For two days, 100 participants from TB and HIV programmes in EU member states and neighboring countries met in Tallinn, Estonia at an event organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs and National Institute for Health Development from Estonia, WHO European Region, UNAIDS, and the Global Fund. The participants, panelists, and speakers discussed challenges and opportunities in ensuring sustainability of programmes when transitioning from donor support to sustainable health systems.

Stop TB Partnership was part of the opening panel and centered its discussion around the need for vision and political leadership in TB and the ambition towards concrete asks for the UN HLM on TB in September 2018. Participants had an opportunity to hear how the Estonian government and TB and HIV programme, in strong collaboration with civil society and community, managed to decrease the number of new HIV cases from 1, 474 in 2001 to 229 in 2016.  Additionally, TB incidence decreased from 47/100,000 to 12.7/100 000.  The meeting discussed concrete steps towards strengthening the national TB and HIV programmes as well as the need for more significant advances in the integration of TB and HIV services.

MINSK, BELARUS

TB advocates in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region came together in Minsk, Belarus, this week for a three-day workshop on strengthening community TB advocacy and engagement.

The workshop, held 11–13 December, was organized by International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and Stop TB Partnership, in collaboration with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and support of community advocates from the regional networks, TBPeople and TB Europe Coalition (TBEC). Activities broached on subjects as diverse as community challenges in the regional TB response, regional epidemiology, TB treatment literacy and communities, rights and gender tools to build an evidence base for an effective TB response. There was also a community consultation focusing on the rights and responsibilities of people affected by TB. This event was the second of five regional workshops that will focus on building stronger, more-coordinated affected communities, advancing strategic partnerships – particularly between Stop TB Partnership, IFRC, national Red Cross societies and community TB advocates – and composing of an advocacy plan and engagement strategy to ensure community priorities are represented and stakeholders are engaged during the UN HLM on TB in 2018. We look forward to continue to support the advocates of the region as we continue toward the HLM and work together to end TB.

Source: European AIDS Treatment Group 

AFEW Builds Models for the Future with Improved TB/HIV Care

AFEW, Hivos and PharmAccess and KNCV representatives after the presentation on the Dutch congress ‘Soa.Hiv.Seks’

Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International

The ‘Improved TB/HIV Prevention & Care – Building Models for the Future’ project was presented during the Dutch National Congress ‘Soa.Hiv.Seks’ on 1 December 2017 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Three working models from Kazakhstan, the Philippines, and Nigeria implemented by AFEW, Hivos and PharmAccess with KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation as the lead agency were shown to the Congress audience.

HIV and TB are two of the biggest public health threats in the world. Mounting challenges associated with these mutually reinforcing diseases are both medical and socio-political. In the efforts to address many of the common challenges, AFEW, HIVOS, PharmAccess and KNCV, with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, collaborate in different parts of the world via the ‘Improved TB/HIV prevention and care-building models for the future’ alliance to jointly design and pilot innovative models of cooperation between the public, private and community sectors involved in the fight against HIV and TB, to find new ways of ensuring and expanding affordable, patient-centred and high quality access to care for key affected populations.

“After the project has started in Almaty, Kazakhstan, we can observe positive changes. A patient has information about good quality care, knows where to go for treatment and support, and has a choice in seeking care in the public sector, private sector and civil society,” the executive director of AFEW International Anke van Dam is saying. “Self-support groups and client management for TB patients are being organized and the HIV and TB working group is supported by the head of the Almaty City Health Department.”

Private clinics in Kazakhstan are now engaged in the public healthcare sector. They are integrated into the national monitoring and evaluation system for public/non-public TB/HIV care provision in Almaty city.

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.