Living with HIV in Russia’ discussed on-line


In the process of preparation for the World AIDS Day on 1 December, the Joint UN Team on HIV/AIDs in Russia decided to conduct an on-line conference on the basis of RIA Novosti, one of the leading Russian information agencies, which has around 170.000 visitors to its main site per day.


The topic, ‘Living with HIV in Russia’- general enough - was chosen to reflect and discuss a wide specter of issues, such as: prevention among different groups of the population, access to treatment, legal aspects, stigma and discrimination, government policy, role of civil society in advocacy of rights of people living with HIV, and others. The format of an on-line conference allowed to reach directly to a very wide audience of Internet-users (27 mln in 2006 in Russia), where the majority are young people between 18 and 24, who are most affected by the epidemic.


For two hours, the speakers at the conference, Bertil Lindblad, UNAIDS Regional Director, Alexandre Goliusov, Head of HIV/AIDS Department at the Federal Service on Surveillance for Consumer Rights and Human Well-Being and Svetlana Izambayeva, member of the community of people living with HIV and Miss Positive-2005 from Kazan answered questions received through RIA Novosti site in advance or during the conference.


The three answered over 40 questions selecting the most typical and urgent, while over 50 questions remained unanswered due to time limit. The questions concerned such topics as the scope of the epidemic in the world and Russia; progress in the production of a vaccine; how the infection spreads and prevention methods; where a person who has been diagnosed as positive should turn to for treatment and support. Some questions cited examples of discrimination and stigmatization on the part of medical workers and other people, others contained words of support and appreciation addressed to Svetlana Izambaeva for her courage in opening up her identity and commitment to helping others. Women also seek her advice as a young mother herself on how to avoid HIV transmission from mother to child.


According to Alexandre Goliusov, since 1987, about 405,000 cases of HIV infection have been registered in the Russian Federation, which is one of the highest rates in the Central and Eastern Europe. Over 80% of the infected are young people. That is why it is so important to “explain even to schoolchildren about the desease. And about stigma and discrimination,” continued Bertil Lindblad.

All speakers agreed on the importance of getting people, in particular the young, informed about the ways of prevention of HIV. For instance, an HIV-positive woman can give birth to a healthy child in 99% of cases if she follows doctors’ advice. “I was not afraid to have a child. I was dreaming of becoming a mom… And I was sure that my child will be healthy thanks to prophylactic measures that I have taken,” told Svetlana Izambayeva about her own experience.


If you are warned you are protected – and that was the main purpose of the interactive discussion.


You can find the full transcript of the conference at