On the 24th of November 2014 in Moscow a press conference was held on the topic “Women combating HIV” in commemoration of World AIDS Day. The following individuals participated in the event:
– Larisa Aleksandrovna Dement’eva, deputy director of the management of epidemiological surveillance of Rospotrebnadzor of the RF;
– Evgeniy Evgen’ievch Voronin, head non-staff specialist of the Russian Health Ministry for diagnostic issues and treatment for HIV infection;
– Vera Brezhneva, goodwill ambassador for UNAIDS, singer, actress, and TV anchor;
– Julia Godunova, executive director of NP EVA;
– Anastasia Mokina, woman living with HIV.
At the press-conference the issue of the feminization of the HIV epidemic in Russia was addressed, as well as timely initiation of treatment and inspection of HIV infection, the interaction of non-profit and government organizations in combating HIV, women’s activism, and non-discriminate treatment of HIV positive people.
Larisa Aleksandrovna Dement’eva started off the meeting. The expert said, that in modern times the problem of HIV/AIDS in Russia remains a real issue. According to the official data, the number of registered cases of infection is more than 860,000. “Unfortunately, the feminization of the epidemic continues to increase in Russia. Around 318,000 women are infected with HIV in our country. The good news is that thanks to carrying out chemoprophylaxis in a timely manner during pregnancy, these women give birth to healthy children. But a lot of this depends on the woman herself,” remarked Larisa Dement’eva.
“To us mass information is very important. The topic of HIV have already moved into the background, pushed back by other problems. But when we talk about the fact that each year 20,000 HIV infected people die, is it true that this is not a problem? This happens regardless of the fact that there is access to treatment and medication, which means that the problem exists and it needs to be addressed,” Larisa Dement’eva declared.
“Who falls into the groups at risk? Injection drug users, partners of drug users, people who have more than one sex partner, and also people who have a consistent sexual partner. Thus, one can say that practically all women from age 13 to 64 fall into this category of risk”, Evgeniy Voronin continued.
The executive director of NP EVA, Julia Godunova, told about the importance of joint interaction of non-government organizations and governmental institutions in combating the spread of HIV in Russia, including among women. To give a positive example of this kind of collaboration, Julia Godunova asked to show a clip that was created by NP EVA for the Center of AIDS in Saint-Petersburg.
Anastasia Mokina talked about her life with HIV. “I am a typical girl, it’s just that I have HIV. Through personal experience I have learned that there is help. There are peer support groups for HIV positive women, there are trustworthy phone numbers, peer counselors, and well-equipped doctors. There are also problems, but a lot depends on the HIV positive women themselves, on their active role in their lives,” said Anastasia Mokina.
“Why don’t people talk about this problem? Because they are afraid. This fear specifically builds discrimination against people with HIV, which means fewer people with HIV are ready to recognize their status and receive treatment. I have a proposal for those people who discriminate against HIV positive people: I propose that you yourselves take an HIV test and only after this, continue your discrimination! Also, I want to urge everyone to be nice to one another and especially to those people who need your kindness, care, and support”, Vera Brezhneva said.
The press conference on the issue of “Women Combating HIV” was organized by the non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of women affected by socially significant diseases, E.V.A.