On 5 July, the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Moscow hosted a presentation, organized by UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Europe and Central Asia, of a Data Base of violations of human rights of people living with HIV. The project is implemented by two civil society organizations - All Russian Union of People Living with HIV and the Association of Lawyers “AGORA”.
While information on the Data Base has been widely distributed among local NGOs networks, the purpose of the presentation was to discuss how it works, what the main hurdles are, and what can be improved.
In his opening remarks, the UNIC Director spoke about the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS (8 – 10 June) which became a remarkable event even amid all global tumults. The forum adopted a declaration, which “will guide countries’ responses to HIV/AIDS over the next five years. “The declaration brings forward new ambitious tasks, and the key goal is to fight down this unprecedented human catastrophe,” said the Director. He made an emphasis on the fact that the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially for such vulnerable groups as homosexuals, drug addicts, sexual workers, is an essential element in the global response to the epidemic. Human communities and policy makers seem to recognize now that addressing stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV is a critical element in combating the scourge, my conclusion was.
Then, Olga Feodorova, member of the Association of Lawyers “AGORA”, gave a brief overview of the programme, supported by UNAIDS, and described in meticulous detail the Data Base.
Ilnur Sharapov, a lawyer, shared examples of his colleagues’ efforts to promote and protect the rights of people living with HIV in Russia.
Irina Kostetskaya, a journalist and one of the authors of the manual entitled “HIV and Human Rights”, talked about a project intended for Russian regions and focused on supporting training programmes and legal consultations for people living with HIV, members of their families, as well for staff of health care entities and agencies of social protection.
Emma Ogarysheva, the Executive Director of the “Rights of the Child” NGO, spoke of their experience with organizing a project to support children living with HIV, and preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. She outlined the rationale behind the programme to ensure equal opportunities for such children.
Following the speakers’ remarks, there was a wide-range discussion on different challenges and obstacles, including access to antiretroviral drugs, discrimination at the work place and legal protection for people living with HIV.