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25.08.08

Today, the STOP AIDS International Automobile Marathon started from Novy Urengoi.

The City Administration Information and Analytical Department informs that the first event of the campaign was a roundtable to promote Partnership between Civil Society and Public Authorities to Ensure Universal Access to HIV Treatment.

It was attended by representatives from the Ural Federal Districts AIDS Centre, the Russian Health Care Foundation, the Interregional Association of People Living with HIV, the Youth Policy Department of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, the Novy Urengoi City Administration and City Duma, NGOs, mass media, the medical community, etc.

Presented information covered the epidemiological situation in the Ural Federal District and in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District; the progress of the 4th Round Global Fund Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care for Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation; and the reviewed lessons learned from international cooperation to ensure universal access to HIV treatment. Specialists from Novy Urengoi shared their practices of HIV prevention and treatment. In this respect, the experience of the city hospital is noteworthy: it has an HIV consultation and diagnostic office and an AIDS laboratory provided with up-to-date equipment and staffed by well-trained and skilled specialists.

The roundtable gave rise to an open discussion, which enabled its participants to share their experience in HIV prevention program implementation. They emphasized the need to fight against the epidemic of the XXI century by joint efforts of all stakeholders, including public authorities, medical community, people affected with the epidemic, teachers, etc.

The roundtable was followed with a press-conference. As noted by Yuri Nepomnyashchikh, Manager of the Automobile Marathon, and Alexander Pankratov, Program Coordinator from the Russian Health Care Foundation, the roundtable was the first and substantive event of the campaign aimed at improving the attitude of decision-makers to the HIV problem; and it proved to be fruitful.

The column of automobiles consists of seven German cross-country vehicles (so-called houses on wheels) decorated with the symbols of the Marathon and is expected to arrive in the city on September 3, 2008. Within three days, schools of the city will offer lectures on the subject. The campaign will involve such volunteers as winners of various Russian nation-wide competitions and HIV-infected persons themselves. Their purpose is to convey information about HIV and AIDS, protection against infection, and about the need to go through HIV testing on a regular basis. Such tests must become natural, necessary and in vogue, say participants of the marathon.

On September 5, 2008, a concert of Russian pop music stars will take place in the central square of the city. Its organisers will disseminate leaflets and souvenirs among the audience. In addition, during these three days, participants of the marathon will communicate with HIV-infected people.

The general sponsor of the automobile marathon is the Russian Health Care Foundation.


20.08.08

Successfully launched last year, the Russian National STOP AIDS! Automobile Marathon has turned into an international event since this year. According to its organisers, the Automobile Marathon will start from the Novy Urengoi and run through 13 Russian cities and through the Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus to finish in Minsk on September 30, 2008.

The STOP AIDS! Project is implemented for the second time. Last year, it proved to be highly effective, so now, the Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus decided to join the campaign. Leaders of 13 Russian regions applied to its organisers to participate in the campaign. The event owes its success to a good mix of various formats and consolidated efforts of different social, non-governmental and professional groups which enabled to cover over half a million young people in Russia with the STOP AIDS campaign.

It was initiated and organised by the Federal Oversight Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare, the Department of Epidemiological Surveillance (the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation), the Pressexpert Company, and the Russian Health Care Foundation in its capacity of the Principal Recipient of the Global Finds grant to implement the Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care for Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation. The general sponsor of the Marathon is the Russian Health Care Foundation.

Its objectives are to convince Russias population of the need to go through HIV testing on a regular basis, foster tolerance to people living with HIV, raise public awareness, and provide information, including that on new methods, to regional authorities. It is meant to inform people about antiretroviral therapy, access to high-quality medical and psychological care in Regional AIDS Centres and provide psychological and social support to people living with HIV.

The period of the International Automobile Marathon will see concerts, public awareness activities, and social marketing in cities and regional mass media. Under the campaign, free-of-charge HIV-testing services will be offered to all who want to go through it. The campaign will also include meetings with people living with HIV in cities of Russia and the CIS. In each city to be visited by the marathon, the campaign will tale two and a half weeks to culminate into the arrival of the column of trailers of the STOP AIDS Automobile Marathon and free performance of Russian stars.

On August 25, 2008, a roundtable in Novy Urengoi will take place to promote Partnership between Civil Society and Public Authorities to Ensure Universal Access to HIV Treatment. The event will bring together officials from the Administration, stakeholder ministries, agencies, organisations and individuals involved in HIV/AIDS prevention in the Russian Federation.

The Roundtable is to provide a platform for an open discussion of the ways and barriers to universal access to HIV treatment and opportunities for interagency cooperation in the Tyumen Oblast, and for sharing experience in HIV prevention program implementation.

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10.08.08

On August 3 - 8, 2008, the capital of Mexico hosted the XVII International AIDS Conference. The Conference brought together over 21,000 participants from various organisations, activists, and representatives from research institutes and governments.


The meeting was attended by Bill Clinton, former US President, and Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General. In his opening address to the Conference, the UN Secretary-General called on all the developed nations to commit to ensure long-term and sustained financing for responses to the AIDS pandemic, and stressed: As the fight against AIDS nears the end of its third decade, we are still facing a huge short fall in resources. According to Ban Ki-moon, AIDS will remain a system-wide priority for the United Nations.

The Secretary-General noted that owing to the massive efforts against HIV at the global scale, more people than ever before are accessing HIV prevention and treatment in low and middle income countries. He made a particular emphasis on the G8 commitment to keep working towards the goal of universal access to HIV prevention and treatment by 2010. He also made a point of the critical need to outlaw discrimination against people living with HIV and members of vulnerable groups.

In parallel to the plenary sessions where official reports were presented and decisions made, the Conference offered a Community Dialogue, which was joined by representatives from civil society organisations from all over the world, including local and national groups and communities of people living with HIV and affected with AIDS. They gathered in the Global Village to communicate, debate, exchange knowledge and skills, establish coalitions and share ideas.

As a reminder, on July 31, 2008, the UNAIDS reported the global HIV/AIDS mortality rate to have reduced for the first time over almost 15 years. Nevertheless, the disease continues to kill millions of people on the planet. As stated in the UNAIDS Report, in the Ukraine, and a number of such key countries as China and the Russian Federation, the HIV incidence rates remain growing. According to the Red Cross, every day, 7,000 people are infected with HIV in the word, the global number of PLWHA is 33 million, and in 2007, the disease killed 2.1 million people.

The Conference was attended by Y. Brodskaya and I. Zakharova, Coordinators from the Russian Health Care Foundation.

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08.08.08

The training was arranged by the Positive Development Regional NGO and supported by the Russian Health Care Foundation under the project aimed at developing direct non-medical services to people living with HIV/AIDS in the participating regions of the Global Fund Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care for Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation.

It was delivered to 19 managers of regional HIV/AIDS non-medical service development projects to develop from such organisations as the Harmony Kaliningrad Regional Charity Organisation, the Assistance 2014 Sochi City Charity Foundation, and the Kuzbass Against Drugs and AIDS Kemerovo Regional Charity Foundation.

According to its organisers, the aim of the training was to extend basic knowledge and skills of social marketing of such services. The training drew upon the following methods and forms: lectures, work in small groups, and discussion exercises. It included such themes as basics of social marketing, brand development, PR, and client-friendliness. The training was evaluated based on the daily processed feedback and responses to an anonymous questionnaire.

The participants deemed the theme relevant and important, and found the coverage of all the issues comprehensive and interesting. Upon completion of the training, each participant received a certificate.


06.08.08

This Conference was organised by the Positive Development Regional NGO and supported by the Russian Health Care Foundation under the project aimed at developing direct non-medical services for people living with HIV/AIDS in the participating regions of the Global Fund Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care for Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation.

It brought together 24 managers of regional HIV non-medical service development projects from such organisations as the Stop Alcoholism and Drug Use Russian Charity Foundation, Take Care of Yourself Chelyabinsk City Charity Foundation, Civil Initiative Magnitogorsk Charity Foundation, etc.

The Conference offered and discussed the following presentations:

- Lessons Learned in the Altai Kray from efforts to stimulate ARV therapy adherence under the Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care for Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation

- Non-Medical Services as Part of the Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care for Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation

- Monitoring and Evaluation of Non-Medical Service Development Projects: Key Performance Indicators and their Measurement Methods.

In addition, the Conference included work in small groups to address such issues as (i) key indicators for monitoring and evaluation of non-medical service development projects and methods of their recording and (ii) challenges and prospects of non-medical service development in the program regions.

In conclusion, the conference participants put forward their proposed strategy of further non-medical service development for people with HIV in the program regions and in Russia as a whole. Moreover, the outputs of their work in small groups will serve as a basis for drafting a document containing key indicators for monitoring and evaluation of non-medical service development projects and a glossary of core notions and terms related to non-medical services.

As noted by Natalia Rekhtina, Educational Project Manager from the Positive Development Regional NGO, the conference was evaluated based on responses to an anonymous questionnaire at the end of the event. Most of its participants deemed its theme relevant and the presentations and discussions comprehensive and interesting. The participants were satisfied with the outputs of the Conference and its organisation.

Note: Non-medical services are a set of social and psychological support services provided to people living with HIV and their relatives. Such services help them to acquire adequate knowledge and perception of various HIV infection aspects; skills to find ways out of crises; skills to enable people living with HIV to make health-related decisions, including HAART adherence and systematic health examinations; and skills to prevent HIV-associated stigmation and discrimination.


21.07.08

On June 26, 2008, the city cultural and entertainment centre of Rostov-on-the-Don hosted a citywide campaign against drugs under the motto: Youth chooses health! It was dedicated to the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and included the following events:

presentations by specialists from the Drug Addiction Prevention Department of the Diagnostic and Consultation Centre under the Directorate of the Federal Service for Drug Trafficking Control for the Rostov Oblast;

performance of children and students dance and music groups;

demonstration sports events: trainees from Children and Youth Sports Schools # 5 (eastern wrestling) and # 6 (athletic acrobatics);

thematic sites;

questionnaire-based surveys of children and youth conducted by the Generations Welfare Organisation; and

counselling for children and youth provided by specialists from the Youth Hot Line, the Drug Addiction Prevention Department of the Diagnostic and Counselling Centre under the Directorate of the Federal Service for Drug Trafficking Control for the Rostov Oblast and the Prevention Centre under the Rostov Oblast Ministry of Health.

The HIV/AIDS and drug addiction thematic site was arranged with the help of specialists involved in the Rostov Oblasts HIV/AIDS Direct Non-Medical Service Development Project financed by the Russian Health Care Foundation. Within this site, project staff and volunteers offered prevention information and counselling, disseminated respective information and handout materials.

The campaign was organised by the Education Department of the Rostov-on-the-Don City Administration, the Office of Youth Affairs of the City Administration, the Rostov Alliance of Children and Youth Organisations with support from the City Culture Department, Committee for Physical Culture and Sports, and the Directorate of the Federal Service for Drug Trafficking Control for the Rostov Oblast.


24.06.08

This training was delivered on June 23 - 25, 2008 as part of RHCF-funded project to training medical personnel in providing voluntary testing and counselling services.

It was organised by the Altai Kray AIDS Centre and the Anti-AIDS-Siberia Regional NGO with inputs from the Rubtsovsk City AIDS Centre, with the aim to ensure high-quality pre- and post-testing counselling and to raise public awareness of HIV prevention and access to treatment. The training is meant for infectionists, obstetricians/gynaecologists, skin and venereal disease specialists, narcologists, psychologists and social workers. It will be delivered by Dr. Maria Yegorova, Head, Prevention Unit, Regional AIDS Centre, Dr. Svetlana Fedina, Epidemiologist from the Prevention Unit of the same Regional AIDS Centre, and Ms. Yulia Vereshchagina, Psychologist from the Rubstovsk City AIDS Centre.

They will highlight social and psychological aspects of HIV infection, offer training in pre- and post-testing counselling practices, depending on HIV testing results. The trainers will use such tools as interactive formats, role-play, discussions, and brainstorms to help trainees to master pre- and post-counselling methods.

In 2008, as earlier, the so-called cascade method is applied to train a broad range of specialists from the participating regions of the Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care for Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation. It means that training of trainers is followed with regional projects to train a broad range of specialists by the trained trainers. In 2007, VCT training was completed by 1,743 specialists. In addition, 173,300 HIV voluntary counselling and testing information booklets were distributed among patients.


20.06.08

On June 19, 2008, the World Bank Moscow Office hosted a roundtable organized by the UNAIDS Moscow Office to discuss measures against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Russian Federation and lessons learnt through international cooperation.

The agenda was as follows:

Projects implemented by non-governmental organisations classified as best practices to be replicated in Russia;
Problems and prospects of governmental support to non-commercial organisations upon completion of the Global Fund projects in Russia;
International support needed under HIV/AIDS programs in Russia in the nearest three years.

The discussion was led by Lisa Carty, Coordinator, UNAIDS Program in the Russian Federation, Shombi Sharp, Senior Advisor to the UNDP Representative in Russia, Alexander Smidt, Svetlana Fidenko, Geof Monaham, UNODCCP Regional Office for Russia and Byelorussia, and Dmitriy Goliaev, Director, Global Fund Project, Russian Health Care Foundation. The roundtable was also attended by Kent Hill, Deputy Director, USAID, and Leon Waskin, Director, USAID Russia Mission.

D.A. Goliaev, Director, Global Fund Project, made a presentation highlighting the progress of the Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV/AIDS -- Treatment and Care to Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation. He also dwelt upon program activities in the light of the recommendations contained in the NGO alternative report to the UNGASS high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS (June 9 - 11, 2008, New-York).


13.06.08

STATEMENT by Mr. Gennady ONISHCHENKO, Head of the Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being, Head of the Russian Federation Delegation, at the High-level meeting on HIV/AIDS in the UN General Assembly, (New York, 10-11 June 2008)

Mr. President,
Secretary-General,
Distinguished colleagues,


The protection of the health of the population and the reduction of mortality are among the most important areas of the Russian Federation's state policy. In this context, addressing the global spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which claims the lives of three million people every year, is acquiring special significance.

In combating the epidemic, the Russian Federation, as well as the international community as a whole, is guided by the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS adopted at the 26th Special Session of the UN General Assembly in 2001. The International Conferences on AIDS First in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which were held in Moscow in 2006 and 2008, reviewed the results of organizational and prevention activities in the region and chartered the course to effectively combat the epidemic.

Among the other momentous international events in this field held over the past years one should mention the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg (July 2006), which, at the initiative of Russia analyzed the issue of consolidating efforts of the international community for combating the spread of infectious diseases, above all, HTV/AIDS, and the G8 report on the implementation of the commitments to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, produced at the initiative and with die direct participation of Russia in 2007.

In our country, the underlying principles of state policy and strategy in this field are determined by the federal law "On the Prevention of the Spread in the Russian Federation of Diseases Caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus", which guarantees universal access for all HIV-infected citizens to a comprehensive array of services.

To ensure the realization of these principles, the Governmental Commission on HIV Infection and the Coordinating Council on HIV/AIDS are functioning in the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development, in which members of civil society and people living with HIV actively participate.

In clearly recognizing the scale of the HIV/AIDS threat, the Government of the Russian Federation attaches priority importance to this issue. Over the past two years, significant progress has been achieved in improving access to treatment and prevention of this infection, care and support for people living with HIV, major national programmes and projects have been carried out. Their goals and objectives are in line with the concept of Universal Access elaborated by UNAIDS.

In the course of the implementation of the Priority National Project on Healthcare, in 2007 and 2008 the Federal budget alone allocated US$ 450 million to diagnosing and treating HIV infection and to the implementation of prevention programmes, which is dozens of times as much as in the previous period.

Every year, in order to identify HIV infection, over 23 million tests are carried out; over 35 thousand HIV-infected patients receive anti-retroviral therapy, more than 90% of HIV-infected pregnant women are undergoing. In the current year, these activities will be significantly scaled up.

Changes have been made to the system of organizing and providing medical assistance to people with HIV. New standards for treating people living with HIV have been adopted, which are consistent with international requirements. 2007 saw the implementation of more than 300 various prevention projects. The financing of NGOs and civil society organisations involved in combating the epidemic and, above all, in prevention, has been increased.

In 2008-2010 US$ 50 million will be committed to research on a vaccine against HIV infection, to set up a mechanism for coordinating this research in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and to coordinate this research with the Global HTV Vaccine Centre.


Mr. President,

We have always attached great significance to international cooperation in the humanitarian field and, in particular, public health. Combating infectious diseases and, especially, HIV/AIDS, has been included as one of the priorities in the Concept of Russian Federation's Participation in International Development Assistance approved by the President of the Russian Federation in June 2007.

To this end, it was decided to reimburse the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, in addition to the previously committed US$ 40 million, another US$ 217 million, from which US$ 118.5 million have already been disbursed to the Fund to expand assistance to developing countries.

Our own experience in the field of cooperation within the CIS shows that regional-subregional and local-community levels are becoming critically important. Russia is ready to assume leadership in the region in a number of aspects of addressing the epidemic, understanding by it, first of all, responsibility for expanding technical, financial and organizational assistance.

I am confident that political commitment demonstrated at this meeting, backed by practical measures, will open a new important page in the history of global partnership against HIV/AIDS.

Thank you.


12.06.08

The number of annually newly identified HIV cases got reduced by half in Russia: from 80,000 in 2001 to 35,000 - 40,000 in 2007. It was stated by Gennady Onishchenko, State Sanitary Physician of the Russian Federation, during an interview with Russian journalists during the UNGASS high level meeting on HIV/AIDS.

At the same time, he warned against resting content with this, saying: All our efforts to combat HIV/AIDS should be deemed insufficient when we register such a great number of HIV-infected persons. It is particularly tragic that most of infected persons are young people aged 18 - 25. The most prevalent way of transmission is through syringes of drug users. And this trend is found not only in Russia. It is not for nothing that this forum urges the UN to combine sessions on drug use with those on AIDS instead of holding separate sessions to address the two challenges.

During the UNGASS high level meeting on HIV/AIDS, representatives from the Russian Health Care Foundation had a number of meetings to discuss progress of the 4th Round Program: Promoting a Strategic Response to HIV -- Treatment and Care to Vulnerable Populations in the Russian Federation financed by the Global Fund.


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