PITCH partners increase advocacy and awareness on HIV and AIDS in the CIS region

PITCH partners increase advocacy and awareness on HIV and AIDS in the CIS region

In December 2019, dozens of World AIDS Day events and advocacy campaigns were held across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS, address the needs of and help eliminate stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV.

With a long tradition of working in the area of health and care, PITCH partner the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been promoting advocacy for better access to health and care and increased awareness of community-based HIV prevention, care, treatment and support intervention through its vast network of volunteers since the mid-80s. The events were a joint collaboration between the Red Cross, Red Crescent National Societies, and NGOs working with people living with HIV

 

Belarus – Red ribbons and flashmobs to address new HIV infections

HIV prevalence continues to rise in Belarus, with 100 Belarusians newly infected every month. The most severely affected age group is young people between 15 and 29, who make up 53% of all people living with HIV.

Belarus Red Cross held a four-week country-wide campaign with over 40 advocacy activities, including flash mobs, art exhibitions, info-sessions, lectures, quizzes, distribution of booklets and contraceptives, and anonymous testing using rapid oral HIV tests.

Belarus Red Cross 2019 / Campaign “Red Ribbon” aimed to raise awareness of school students on HIV in one of the public schools in Mogilev, Belarus
Belarus Red Cross 2019 / Campaign “Red Ribbon” aimed to raise awareness of school students on HIV in one of the public schools in Mogilev, Belarus

Ukraine – Balloons to burst HIV myths

Over 2,000 people were informed about HIV/AIDS through information campaigns and flash mobs organised by Ukranian Red Cross in Dnieper, Ternopol, Volnovakha, and Bakhmut.

Ukranian Red Cross 2019 / Red Cross volunteers during a youth flashmob in support of people living with HIV in Bakhmut, Ukraine
Ukranian Red Cross 2019 / Red Cross volunteers during a youth flashmob in support of people living with HIV in Bakhmut, Ukraine

Kyrgyzstan – Rapid testing and support for people living with HIV

Volunteers and staff of the Red Crescent of Kyrgyzstan organised various advocacy events across seven regions of the country, ranging from press conferences, information sessions, sports events, and drawing competitions in schools and universities. Free rapid HIV testing events were conducted in large market areas of Bishkek, Osh, and Kara-Suu, where over 1,300 people in total were tested. Additionally, volunteers distributed food packages for people living with HIV in the Chui region.

 

Red Crescent of Kyrgyzstan 2019 / Red Crescent volunteer distributes a food package to a person living with HIV in the Chui region, Kyrgyzstan
Red Crescent of Kyrgyzstan 2019 / Red Crescent volunteer distributes a food package to a person living with HIV in the Chui region, Kyrgyzstan

Russia  - Renewed focus, media sensitization and public awareness

In order to develop a common position on existing legal, social and health barriers impeding adequate access to health services for people living with HIV for further dialogue with CIS parliamentarians, IFRC held an International Forum of NGOs of CIS countries, representing people living with HIV and Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Representatives of civil society organisations supporting people living with HIV contributed to the lively discussions, with representation from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. They were joined by the Russian Red Cross, Belarus Red Cross, Red Crescent of Tajikistan, UNAIDS office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and OXFAM Russia.

Additionally, a master-class for Russian journalists was organised to increase their knowledge on the humanitarian aspects of HIV, correct vocabulary to avoid stigma and discrimination, and creation of positive attitudes and a friendly environment in mass media towards people living with HIV. 20 representatives took part in this master-class from different mass media outlets from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Voronezh, Nizhniy Novgorod, Tula, and Kaluga. Sessions were led by UNAIDS, IFRC and the NGO “Steps”, as well as by experienced journalists who specialise on topics related to covering HIV in media.

TASS, one of the largest news agencies in Russia, held a press conference with experts from UNAIDS, IFRC, and  a major news outlet from Ekaterinburg, as well as Red Cross and Red Crescent specialists and representatives of key populations living with HIV from Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, participated in the event and shared their experiences with journalists and partners.

Volunteers and staff of the Russian Red Cross in Saint Petersburg, Murmansk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Arkhangelsk, Khabarovsk, Cherkessk, and other cities also held public surveys concerning the general population’s outlook and knowledge on HIV and AIDS, distributed booklets on HIV prevention, held information seminars at local universities, and conducted rapid HIV testing in their areas.

IFRC 2019 / IFRC session at the master-class for journalists on covering HIV
IFRC 2019 / IFRC session at the master-class for journalists on covering HIV

Tajikistan – Student engagement to address stigma and discrimination

The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan held information campaigns on HIV prevention and reduction of stigma and discrimination for over 900 students in various universities in Dushanbe, such as the Institute of Economics and Finance, the Agrarian University, and the Pedagogical University.

Red Crescent of Tajikistan 2019 / Red Crescent of Tajikistan held a session on HIV prevention for students of the Institute of Economics and Finance, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Red Crescent of Tajikistan 2019 / Red Crescent of Tajikistan held a session on HIV prevention for students of the Institute of Economics and Finance, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

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