|More HIV and AIDS because of Homophobia in Eastern Europe and Central Asia|
by Redaktie in Health & Body , 30 May 2016
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In spite of the Russian anti-propaganda law, the Aids Fonds in Moscow is still present with information and an exhibition on HIV and homosexuality. In Moscow, the Eastern European and Central Asian Aids Conference took place, co-organised by UNAIDS. The conference was attended by participants from 50 different countries, including scientists, politicians, health professionals, and activists.
Louise van Deth, Executive Director of the Aids Fonds: “With our presence in Moscow, we want to make clear that the end of the AIDS epidemic in 2030, as was predicted by the UN, will only be achieved if we shift our full attention to the well-being of homosexuals, drug users, and sex workers. Increasing homophobia in that part of the world is counteracting exactly that.”
The theme of the conference is Every Life Matters. The Aids Fonds wants to stress that the lives of men who have sex with men, drug users, and sex workers also count. They are especially hit by HIV. The HIV epidemic continues to expand especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In this region, an estimated 1.1 million people were living with HIV. In that same year, there were 110,000 new infections, and 53,000 died because of AIDS. In the past years, the number of AIDS diagnoses has doubled in Eastern Europe.
Stigmatization, social exclusion and discriminatory legislation have made this risk group extra vulnerable to HIV. The Aids Fonds exhibition tells the story of David (see photo), a young man from Uzbekistan that was forced to flee his home country because of his sexual orientation, and of Linara, a 42-year-old woman from Kyrgyzstan, who was encouraged to have an abortion because of her history with drugs.
David: “He threatened me and told me I was a danger to society!”
Linara: “The first medical advice I was given was certainly discriminatory. The clinic I visited for a second opinion changed everything. The baby was in perfect health.”
The Aids Fonds is collaborating with COC, Mainline and Aids Foundation East-West, among others, in the Bridging the Gaps programme, which specifically targets the human rights and health of these risks groups. The programme is in effect since 2011 and is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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