A brief description of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in the CIS
6 June 2001
Mass media campaigns Using nation-wide TV and radio stations, billboards, and educational leaflets, the mass media campaigns increase awareness about safe sex and condom use. They target young Russians between 15 and 29 years of age, and are developed in close collaboration with the Russian NGO "Focus". In June 2001, MSF and "Focus" will launch its 4th annual media campaign. "Harm Reduction" program for injecting drug users The "Harm Reduction" program, started in 1996, targets intravenous drugs users, commercial sex workers, and health professionals. In the streets of Moscow, MSF teams conduct outreach work, offering counselling to injecting drug users and information on how to avoid drug-related health risks including HIV. The "Harm Reduction" program has also offered training to 200 health professionals who work in AIDS centres, narcological hospitals, and local NGOs in 60 cities throughout the country. The training focuses on the development and implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention programs for injecting drugs users. It has been adopted by the Russian Medical Academy as part of its curriculum. As a result of a collaborative effort - training offered by MSF, funding by the Open Society Institute / International Harm Reduction Development, and implementation by Russian authorities - harm reduction prevention programs in 35 cities are currently up and running. AIDS info project Run jointly with the Russian NGO "AIDS Infoshare", this program's main activity is the collection, translation, production and dissemination of informational materials on HIV/AIDS. It also runs a hotline and has compiled a comprehensive "Resource Guide" of organizations working on HIV/AIDS/STDs which has been distributed to health professionals and institutions Russia-wide. Six new regional HIV/AIDS information centres have been created within existing local NGOs. Health promotion in the Russian prison system This pilot program started in July 1999 and is slated to last three years. In collaboration with the Russian Ministry of Justice, a variety of preventive health activities are being developed and implemented in prison colonies and pre-trial detention centers ("SIZOs") in four regions of the Russian Federation. These activities are integrally linked with the other prevention programs in the civil society. PROGRAM ACTIVITIES IN UKRAINE AND MONGOLIA Ukraine In October 1999, MSF's HIV/AIDS prevention programs extended to Ukraine, the CIS country hardest hit by the virus so far. Today there are more than a quarter million HIV/AIDS cases (UNAIDS), and the epidemic has spread beyond the small high-risk groups of drug users and sex workers, into the wider community. MSF's main activities include: a mass media campaign aimed at tackling the stigmatisation and discrimination directed at people with HIV/AIDS; training on the development and implementation of harm reduction programs; a "care and support" program to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child and psycho-social support to family members of HIV infected people. Mongolia Program activities began in February 1999 and include safe sex campaigns to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease, the development of information centres, and the training of 120 health professionals in pre- and post HIV test counselling and in the prevention of STDs. EXPANDING AND HANDING OVER PROGRAMS IN 2001 The creation of a new NGO: "Aids Foundation East-West" Given the growing need to respond to the development of an HIV/AIDS epidemic in the CIS, the founders of MSF's first HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the region have created a new public health NGO, "Aids Foundation East-West" (AFEW). This new NGO will become operational in the summer of 2001, and will focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, and care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Many of the programs run by MSF in Russia, Ukraine, and Mongolia will be continued under AFEW. Others will be handed over to governmental or non-governmental counterparts. The outreach program in the streets of Moscow, for example, will be run by the Russian NGO "Return to Life" as of April 2001. The programs created in collaboration with "Aids Infoshare" will continue to develop under this well established Russian NGO. And the safe sex campaigning are gradually being handed over to "Focus". MSF will help ensure a smooth transition by backing "Aids Foundation East-West" with funding until the end of the year 2001. The two other main financial partners to date are the Open Society Institute and the Dutch government. AFEW aims to assess the needs for prevention programs in various CIS countries - most probably starting with Belarus, Kazakhstan, or Moldova - and to implement programs in at least five former republics of the Soviet Union before the end of the year 2003.