Activists gather to discuss issues faced by women living with HIV and AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

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On 6 and 7 June in Minsk, Belarus, the Public Health and Social Development Foundation, FOCUS-MEDIA, with organizational and logistical support from ITPCru, held an international conference for women affected by HIV across the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.
Participants included activists from the EVA Women’s Network, the Candle Foundation (Russia), the Community of People Living with HIV in Belarus, the Positive Movement (Belarus), the Ukrainian Network of PLWH, and the Positive Women Organization of Ukraine.
In addition to HIV-positive women and activists from these organizations, representatives of public institutions, such as the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus and the Repulic of Tatarstan’s National Center for the Prevention and Control of AID, were also present.
The focus of the conference was on issues surrounding the quality of life of women with HIV. Specific issues were discussed as related to health and ‘beauty’ while taking ARVs, self-acceptance with HIV, and self-stigma.
Presentations were conducted covered a wide-range of topics, including access to breast milk substitutes, international advocacy by women, working with the media, engagement of HIV-positive teenagers, successful practices in working with women affected by HIV from vulnerable groups, and violence and codependency as a factor in the spread of HIV.
In addition to the scheduled presentations, the conference provided the forum and opportunity for women affected by HIV across this region to share and exchange their experiences.
The conference was the final event of a two-year project by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) that was conducted in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus by FOCUS-MEDIA, with the support of ITPCru.