“I have HIV and it is not a verdict”

Amina from Tajikistan lives with HIV for nine years

Author: Nargis Hamrabaeva, Tajikistan

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

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

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

Fire, hospital, blood transfusions…

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, the conversation with her husband was hard.

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

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

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

Building a house and finding a true love

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

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

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

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

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

AIDS 2018: Abstract Submission Guidelines

Scientific tracks

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

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

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

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

Call for abstracts

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

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

Late breaker abstracts

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

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

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

Questions

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

Policies for abstract submission

Copyright policy

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

Resubmission policy

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

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

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

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

Plagiarism

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

Co-submission

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

Ethical Research Declaration

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

Conference embargo policy

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

Abstract submission process

Conference profile

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

Choosing a track category

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

Abstract structure

The conference offers two options for abstract submission:

Option 1

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

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

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

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

Option 2

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

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

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

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

Disaggregated sex and other demographic data in abstracts

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

Font

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

Word limits

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

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

Common reasons for abstract rejection:

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

Reasons for abstract rejection – specific to Option 1:

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

Reasons for abstract rejection – specific to Option 2:

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

Recommendations

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

Submission confirmation

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

Support programmes

Abstract Mentor Programme

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

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

For more information please visit Abstract Mentor Programme webpage.

Scholarship application process

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

For more information please visit Scholarship Programme webpage.

Abstract review and selection process

Abstract review

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

Abstract selection

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

Notification of acceptance or rejection to the corresponding author

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

Rule of two

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

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

Publication of accepted abstracts

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

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

Source: AIDS 2018

Donbass: the HIV Epidemic Growing on Both Sides of the Border

Member of the Donbass battalion Aleksey with his wife. When he was taken captive, his wife secretly brought him medications. Photo: Mikhail Fridman

Author: Yana Kazmirenko, Ukraine

HIV is rapidly spreading in the east of Ukraine, which for over three years remains the area of military actions. For two years, pregnant women have not been tested for HIV, and medications could only be delivered illegally.

The armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine divided Donbass into two parts: areas controlled by the central Ukrainian government and the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). The latter are controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

This Russian-Ukrainian conflict demonstrated the differences in the approaches of the two countries to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Thus, in Russia opioid substitution treatment (OST) for people who inject drugs is banned. After Ukraine no longer supplied OST drugs to Donetsk and Lugansk, relevant programmes were also terminated in the areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government. According to experts, the war brought the region back to the 90s in terms of the spread of HIV.

Only half of those in need take the therapy

Sergey Dmitriyev, member of the Coordination Council of the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV says that there are 16 thousand HIV-positive people living in the areas of Donetsk region not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Only half of them take the therapy. In the Lugansk region, the situation is similar: 2.7 thousand people living with HIV registered, 1.4 thousand – taking the therapy.

On the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government, 13.6 thousand people with HIV positive status are registered, and over seven thousand receive the therapy. It is not surprising that the level of HIV prevalence here is 676.9 per 100 thousand people, which is 2.2 times higher than the average indicator in Ukraine. The highest rates are recorded in Dobropole (1,459.6 per 100 thousand people) and Mariupol (1,154.5).

Apart from the official statistics, the number of undetected HIV cases is at least the same as the number of cases registered as the epidemic in Donbass has long gone beyond the vulnerable populations.

AIDS centres across the border

Natalia Bezeleva, Head of the NGO “Club Svitanok”

Natalia Bezeleva, Head of the NGO “Club Svitanok,” thinks that during the three years of armed conflict only services and deliveries of medications have been re-established in the region. Currently, in the Ukraine-controlled areas , here are 22 sites to prescribe antiretroviral therapy. She remembers the deficit of antiretroviral drugs as a bad dream – her organization had to smuggle the drugs for over a year. Since 2016, the Global Fund has also joined the delivery of supplies, providing the necessary drugs, while UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – has been bringing the supplies to the “LPR” and the “DPR”.

Ms. Bezeleva illustrates failure of the established HIV/AIDS diagnostics and treatment system with the following fact: in 2014, the Donetsk regional AIDS centre remained on the territory not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests have not been transported through the newly created border, so for two years, no HIV diagnostics was done for children. Another big challenge was the deficit of doctors – most health professionals left the area of the armed conflict.

According to Ms. Bezeleva, the situation improved in 2016, when the Donetsk regional AIDS centre was opened in Slavyansk. Today, thanks to the support of the Global Fund PCR tests of adult patients are taken to Kharkiv and children’s PCR tests are delivered to Kyiv. There are also first achievements in diagnostics: in 2016, over 113 thousand people or 5.8% of the total population of the region were tested for HIV, and in the nine months of this year 84 thousand people have already been tested.

The military: testing for the contracted soldiers

A social worker visits an HIV-positive TB patient in the TB treatment clinic in Donetsk. Photo: Mikhail Fridman

Even in the peacetime, the military face the risk of infections, in particular HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis, which is 2-5 times higher than in the general population. At war, this risk grows 50-fold.

In the area of armed conflict, there are 60 thousand of Ukrainian soldiers. According to the result of the research study conducted by the Alliance for Public Health, about 4% of the military enter the conflict area with an HIV positive status, while the percentage of HIV-positive soldiers leaving the area is doubled and reaches 8-8.5%.

Activists of civil society organizations say that the military should be covered with prevention programmes and convinced that they need to be tested. Another important issue is equipping the military first aid kits with condoms.

The Digital Consultation from the Amsterdam Youth Force

Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV/AIDS Lambert Grijns

We are glad to announce the digital consultation the Amsterdam Youth Force (AYF) is organising in the run up to 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018.) AIDS 2018 will be an important event in the road to fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Therefore, it is crucial that young people’s perspectives are heard in the lead up to the conference, which is why we a consultation to help produce position papers reflecting young people’s voices is being launched.

The consultation will build on the work the #UPROOT agenda documented by PACT, and Amsterdam Youth Force is currently investigating the best ways to do that. In the meantime, AYF is looking for volunteers to help with the project. They are specifically looking for:

  • Young people who speak both English and Russian, French, Arabic, Spanish or Chinese.
  • People who want to help manage and translate input in those languages and help write the papers.
  • People who are available for that from January until July 2018.

If you are interested in helping out, please let AYF know via advocacy.ayf@gmail.com. Then they will contact you to see how you can help.

Call for Application: AIDS 2018 Abstract Support

Amsterdam Youth Force, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and AFEW International invite applicants from Eastern Europe and Central Asia region (EECA) to submit drafts abstracts for XXII International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam (AIDS 2018) to board panel of experts for review. 

We would like to invite Eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) researchers, clinicians, scientists, community activists and young people to submit their abstracts to our EECA AIDS 2018 Abstract Support team. Boosting the representation of academics in this region is important as this is the only region in the world where the epidemic is still growing. To increase the chances to present their work at the conference for researchers, clinicians, community activists and young people from EECA who may have less experience in writing scientific abstracts in English, we will be facilitating scientific and English language assistance. We will link you to a researcher or a professional in your field which can provide you with scientific feedback on how to improve the quality of your abstract. To specifically support young researchers and community activists, we also offer a feedback session via Skype to discuss the suggested changes to your work.

If this sounds like something you could benefit from, please read further about the eligibility criteria and review process.

Eligibility criteria

You can submit your abstract to aids2018@AFEW.nl for a professional review if you are:

  • A (young) researcher, scientists, clinician, community activist or representative of community based organization or NGO; and
  • Planning to submit an abstract to 22nd International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam, 23-27 July 2018 (AIDS 2018); and
  • Working in one of the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan;

The review process

  • We will be accepting submissions from the 1st of December 2017 until the 10th of January 2018 in both English and Russian languages. The feedback to the submitted draft abstracts will be provided in two subsequent rounds. The first round panelists will provide in-depth feedback on the initial content, and the second round will allow for the final feedback on the adjusted version.

First round feedback will be sent out to applicants within 10 days after the submission. The timing for in-person communication shall it be needed, will be coordinated individually with each applicant.

  • Limited translation and editing services will occur between the 22 January and 2 February 2018.

For those who submit in Russian language, you will first receive feedback on the academic quality of your written piece. Following this, a limited number of abstracts will also be translated into English. This is based on the need, so please indicate your capacity for translation in the letter of motivation.

For the abstract submissions written in English, you will receive feedback on the scientific quality of work, and limited number of abstracts will get assistance with English editing. Again, please indicate your English skills and need for editing in the motivation letter.

  • Due to the limited capacity of the panelists, in total up to 110 abstracts will be able to receive feedback. Therefore, the rule “first come – first served” will apply. First 110 abstracts submitted from eligible applicants will be forwarded to a relevant panelist based on his/her expertise and academical background, for feedback and in some cases for personal communication.

Please send your abstract in Word format, include a brief letter of motivation, which scientific track you will be submitting to and details about yourself including your age if you would like to apply as a young researcher or community activist.

Below you will find links to materials on how to write conference abstracts, available in English and Russian.

Requirement to abstracts

  • The abstract should be written in accordance with the official requirements of the AIDS Conference.
  • The draft abstract should be written in Russian or English.
  • The content of the abstract should be in line with one of the conference scientific tracks. The scientific track must be specified under the heading of the abstract.
  • There is a maximum of two abstracts per applicant.
  • Those applicants who want to receive language support either the translation into Russian, or editing of the English abstract, will have to submit a short motivation letter to explain why they need such support.

Confidentiality

AFEW International, EHRA and Amsterdam Youth Force form a Steering Committee and the secretariat of the EECA Abstract support project. Only people designated to serve within Steering Committee and the secretariat and the reviewers assigned to each abstract will have access to the abstract submissions as well as the contact details of the applicants. We will not release any information on who has received assistance for their submissions at any point unless we have consent to do so.

Useful resources

  1. Abstract writing module available in Russian and English

An Abstract writing module is developed in collaboration with the International AIDS Society (IAS) – the organizer of the AIDS conferences, and written by editors of the Journal of the International AIDS Society, an open-access platform for essential and innovative HIV/AIDS research. It is available for everybody in English and translated into Russian by AFEW International.

  1. Online training on abstract writing

AFEW International has conducted a training on community based participatory research and abstract writing. This training was steamed live and records as well as hand outs and presentations are available in Russian here:

Abstract writing: structure, review criteria, submission tips

Good abstract title

On the road to AIDS2018: practical guide

Presentations and handouts (downloadable, please scroll down)

If you want to receive English presentations and handouts, please refer to the email address below.

  1. Tips and trick on how to write a good abstract.

AIDS2018: Preparing for registration and submitting abstracts. An Article was written by a young researchers Anna Tokar, in Russian is available here, and in English here

You can follow us on http://www.AFEW.org/aids2018eeca/ and https://www.facebook.com/AFEWInternational/ for all the updates on the available resources and opportunities.

World AIDS Day 2017 – message of Anke van Dam

World AIDS Day 2017: message of AFEW International Executive Director Anke van Dam

Let us stand still on this World AIDS Day at all the brave people living with HIV that fight for their right to health. Let us think about those living in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), where only 28% of people with the diagnosis HIV have access to ARV treatment, and less than a quarter have a zero viral load. Where the majority of people at a higher risk for HIV face stigma and discrimination. Where the costs for some generic ARVs are higher than the patented ones. Where funds for prevention, treatment and care are diminishing with the years.

AFEW International Executive Director Anke van Dam

In a world where we know how to prevent HIV, how to stop AIDS, how to treat with optimal care, we should not allow that people die of AIDS, nowhere and also not in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

It is therefore not for nothing that AIDS2018, the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam on 23 – 27 July 2017, has a focus on the public health concerns as HIV, TB and viral hepatitis in this specific EECA region. Next year summer, we have more than ever an opportunity to address the challenges and the obstacles in policies, political and health care systems. With the relevant stakeholders in one spot, we have an excellent chance to facilitate dialogue between communities, political leaders and donors for better access to treatment and for sustainable financial mechanisms.

AFEW is working for more than 16 years in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to improve access to health care for people who use drugs, prisoners, sex workers, LGBT and young people. From our experience and collaboration in EECA we can tell what is needed. We as AFEW with all other hard-working networks, NGOs and CBOS from the region will demonstrate our expertise, drive, motivation and willingness to curb the HIV epidemic and our wish for a healthy future for all, including the people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

On the Barricades of Harm Reduction in Georgia

Author: Irma Kakhurashvili, Georgia

In Georgia, there are not many organisations working with people who use drugs to improve their health and re-integrate them into the society. New Vector is the first self-organisation of drug users not only in Georgia, but also in the South Caucasus. Since 2006, its activists openly oppose the repressive drug policy, fight for the rights of people who use drugs (PWUD), and search for the innovative approaches to resolve health problems. The main goal of the New Vector is to provide harm reduction services and advocate for the health and social programmes, which are vital for people who use drugs.

In the organisation, drug users are offered free fibroscan liver tests and dentist’s services. Besides, workshops for community members are often held. Every Friday is a woman’s day. Female drug users attend sewing and needlework classes. Since 2016, the organisation also actively provides new services – with mobile clinics, activists and social workers of the organisation test drug users and general population for hepatitis C and HIV both in the capital of Georgia and in the regions.

Staying until the issues are resolved

The New Vector takes part in reforming and humanizing the national drug policy. Several years ago, the Georgian Network of People Who Use Drugs (GeNPUD) was founded at the initiative of the organisation. Through the joint efforts of GeNPUD, different NGOs and activists, amendments were introduced in the law requiring health personnel to call police in case of an overdose. Besides, GeNPUD carried out advocacy activities to exercise the right of drug users to refuse compulsory testing in drug departments of the police granted by article 42 of the Constitution. As a result of the campaigns initiated by the activists of GeNPUD and New Vector, the state ensured access to high-cost new-generation drugs for Hepatitis C treatment in Georgia.

The New Vector holds its position of the leading organisation in the provision of social and prevention services in the area of harm reduction.

“As for HIV/AIDS prevention, for many years we have been implementing harm reduction programmes – syringe and needle exchange. Every day, our social workers go “in the field” and offer sterile syringes and other supplies to people who use drugs. As far as I know, currently there are 6,564 cases of HIV registered in Georgia, with people who inject drugs accounting for 43.2% of such cases,” the head of the New Vector Koka Labartkava is saying. “Last year, when conducting testing in the New Vector we detected 10 cases of HIV, this year we recorded seven cases. If a client has HIV, our social workers assist him in finding specialists and programmes to solve his problems. We stay with our clients until their issues are resolved. In addition to the mobile clinics, drug users can also get tested for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis in our laboratory, right here in the office.”

Problem detected first step to the solution

The Project “Supporting patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis, taking measures to improve treatment” implemented in five regions of Georgia will be operating as a pilot for 10 months. The Project was launched on 1 July 2017 and, if it proves to be successful, it will be expanded all over the country. The project management team conducted preparatory activities in five cities of Georgia: Tbilisi, Rustavi, Gori, Kutaisi, and Batumi. Multidisciplinary teams have already been formed to include a social worker, a peer consultant and a psychologist. Altogether, six groups have been created, and two of them are in Tbilisi.

The support team (a social worker, a psychologist and a peer consultant) offer individual and group psychosocial counselling, assistance in solving social problems, psychological and legal consultations, counselling and testing for hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis.

In September and October this year, the Georgian Network of People who Use Drugs organized information and advocacy sessions for people who use drugs, including those who have HIV and tuberculosis, as well as for different civil society organisations.

The aim of such sessions was to assist the community in defining the challenges and the barriers in terms of access to HIV/AIDS and TB treatment and prevention programmes and in terms of their quality. The sessions allowed defining the gaps at local, national and international levels. Action plans and advocacy tools will soon be defined in relation to each of the gaps.

The New Vector has close partner relations with Tanadgoma within the Task Force City project, stipulating allocation of municipal budget funds for the implementation of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis prevention programmes. One of the conditions to ensure the effective distribution of resources and developing a municipal public health strategy is for the Mayor of Tbilisi to sign the Paris Declaration‑2014.

People Living with HIV Can Live Longer

Brussels, 29 November 2017 – Experts unveiled a set of recommendations to address health problems facing people living with HIV. Treatments are helping people with HIV live long lives, but they face higher risk than others of serious illnesses – from cancer to heart disease to depression.

As people living with HIV require access to a range of health services beyond just their HIV treatment, a coordinated and personalised approach to long-term HIV care is needed, according to the HIV Outcome recommendations, which were unveiled at an event at the European Parliament.

“There is huge room for improvement” said Nikos Dedes, Chair of the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) and Co-Chair of the HIV Outcomes Steering Group. “It is great that people living with HIV can live nearly as long as anyone else these days because of new treatments, but there are complicated health problems that are being ignored. The HIV Outcomes initiative has put together a list of suggestions that has the potential to improve the lives of Europeans who live with HIV.”

In a timely reminder ahead of World AIDS Day on Friday, 1 December, the HIV Outcomes initiative highlights that the advent of modern antiretroviral therapies (ART) has transformed the lives of people living with HIV. For those diagnosed and treated early, it is now a chronic, rather than a fatal, condition. However, this is no guarantee of good health outcomes or quality of life; further effort is needed to develop effective, lifelong approaches to the long-term treatment and care of people living with HIV.

To address these needs, the HIV Outcomes initiative has engaged in a year-long multi-stakeholder process to develop a series of five detailed policy recommendations. These call for an integrated and patient-centred approach to long-term HIV care, which should include services for the prevention, treatment and management of other health conditions (comorbidities), services for mental health conditions, personalised care plans, and advice and support on sexual and reproductive health. Other recommendations call for monitoring of how health systems currently respond to the long-term health challenges faced by people living with HIV as well as efforts to combat stigma and discrimination within health systems.

Recommendations

  1. Adopt an integrated, outcomes-focused, and patient-centred approach to long-term care.

  2. Expand national monitoring of long-term care and outcomes.

  3. Fund studies to provide information on the long-term health of people living with HIV.

  4. Combat stigma and discrimination within health systems.

  5. Upscale involvement of the HIV community in priority setting at country level.

The next step is to ‘road test’ the recommendations at national level in two countries – Italy and Sweden – during 2018. Both have already demonstrated their commitment to people living with HIV; Italy has published a ‘White Book’ on the chronic care model for HIV, while Sweden is the first country to achieve the UNAIDs ‘90-90-90’ targets.The three Member of the European Parliament (MEPs) supporting the event meeting, Christofer Fjellner (European People’s Party, EPP), Eva Kaili (Socialists and Democrats, S&D) and Gesine Meissner (Alliance for Liberals and Democrats in Europe, ALDE), agreed, “Having addressed the issue of longevity, society now needs to help people with HIV to retain good health and lead rewarding lives. As representatives of the European Parliament’s leading political groups, we fully support the aims of this initiative.

The learnings and best practice generated on a national level will ultimately be reported at a future event in the European Parliament in 2018 and should provide further refinements to efforts to improve the long-term health outcomes and quality of life of people living with HIV. It is time to expand our ambitions for the health and well-being of people living with HIV beyond just viral suppression.

HIV/AIDS Surveillance in Europe 2017-2016 Data Released

On 1st of December, we mark World AIDS Day (WAD) to raise awareness about HIV and its impact on individuals and societies around the globe. WAD 2017 in the WHO European Region will focus on the problem of late HIV diagnosis – the high number of people who are diagnosed with HIV at a late stage of infection with consequences for individuals’ health and survival, and for the community where HIV can transmit further.

With this message, we invite you to join us and mark the World Aids Day 2017 in your country.

On 28 November 2017, WHO/Europe and ECDC jointly released the annual report on HIV/AIDS surveillance Europe, containing the latest available surveillance data.

Similar to recent years, the highest proportion of HIV diagnoses (40%) was reported to be in men who have sex with men (MSM). However, for the first time in a number of years, several countries reported a decline in new HIV diagnoses, even after adjusting for reporting delay.

While the data in this year’s report indicate alarming rates and increases in new diagnoses in some parts of eastern and central Europe over the last decade, at the same time there has been a tendency towards stabilising or even decreasing rates in some EU/EEA countries.

Trends by transmission mode, for example, show that the number of HIV diagnoses among MSM in the EU/EEA decreased slightly in 2016 and the number of heterosexually acquired cases has decreased steadily over the last decade.

Moreover, in the EU/EEA, the number of AIDS cases, and the number of AIDS-related deaths, has consistently declined since the mid-1990s.

The report on HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2017 – 2016 data is available here.

Civil Society Letter to Support the Position of Prof M. Kazatchkine as UN special Envoy on HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

To the United Nations Secretary-General Mr Antonio Guterres

Amsterdam, 30 November 2017

Re: Civil Society letter to support the position of Prof M. Kazatchkine as UN special envoy on HIV/AIDS for Eastern Europe and Central Asia dd 23 June 2017

Your excellency Mr Guterres,

With this letter, we – undersigned civil society organizations – call on you to reinstate the position of Prof. Michel Kazatchkine as your Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

In 2018, the International AIDS Conference will take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The largest health conference in the world will have a special focus on Eastern-Europe and Central Asia, a region in which the HIV/AIDS, TB and viral hepatitis epidemics are out of control. This development concerns us deeply:

• The annual number of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia 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.

Despite these alarming developments, donors and multilateral institutions are pulling out of the region. Achieving the SDGs on health and the promise to leave no one behind is therefore still far away in the EECA region.

Prof. Michel Kazatchkine has played a key role in highlighting the region to institutions as UN Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He played a crucial role in mobilizing local authorities, (inter)national civil society, donors, researchers and other relevant groups to come to better outcomes to the UNAIDS indicators as we see now. As a result, he enjoys great support from communities in the region.

In our letter of 23 June 2017, we asked to continue the position of Prof. Michel Kazatchkine as your Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We express our disappointment about not having received a response yet. At the same time, we understand that Mr Eric Goosby continues as UN special envoy on TB, due to the important UN High Level meeting on TB in September 2018.

The AIDS 2018 conference in July 2018 will be a key moment for the region and for the world as well. The Dutch government acknowledges the issues and has prioritized the region for the conference. We applaud their leadership as this is the moment to bring political leaders, policy makers, scientists, clinicians and community leaders together and draw attention to the urgent need to next steps.

We strongly urge you to reinstate the position of Prof. Michel Kazatchkine as your Special Envoy for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, or at the very least use your influence to ensure that Prof Kazatchkine may continue his work at UN level, as he is in an excellent position next year to create a momentum to raise awareness on the disruptive situation the epidemics has caused in the region.

Yours sincerely,

Anke van Dam,
AFEW International

Please, support this letter by signing it before 30 November 2017 5pm CeT. You can sign this letter here