Conference "Health and well-being of people living with HIV and people vulnerable to HIV in today's challenges" was held in Minsk
Every year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People around the world unite to show support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS.
The inequalities which perpetuate the AIDS pandemic are not inevitable; we can tackle them.The “Equalize” slogan is a call to action. It is a prompt for all of us to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS.
To mark the Day the two-day conference "Health and well-being of people living with HIV and people vulnerable to HIV in today's challenges" organized jointly by UNAIDS and UNDP in Belarus opened in Minsk.
Speaking at the opening of the conference the UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki noted that for many years, Belarus has been one of the champions in the region in implementing evidence-based WHO recommendations, including “Treat all” policy, HIV self-testing, harm reduction programmes (including opioid-substitution therapy and needle exchange programme).
“In Belarus, the Joint UN team on HIV/AIDS and all its members – UNAIDS, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNODC, UNDP, UNHCR and others - have always been and will remain reliable partners for both governmental and non-governmental institutions in Belarus, in order to maximize the impact of national efforts on the HIV epidemic”, said Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki
Just during the last year, the UN agencies have supported the implementation of the Global Fund grant in Belarus, including the procurement of ARV medicines and tests and presented the Assessment of the National Drug Policy of Belarus with concrete recommendations and the HIV legal environment assessment.
«We provided capacity building and trainings for healthcare workers, representatives of civil society and communities, Ministry of Interior, and social workers. An example of evidence- and scientific-based approach to “knowing your epidemic” principle of UNAIDS, is the IOM nation-wide quantitative and qualitative research on migrant health, including risks and vulnerabilities to HIV.
One of the most important achievements of Belarus in terms of HIV response was receiving in 2016 a prestigious WHO certificate confirming the validation of elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. Belarus has become one of the first, and still few countries, to receive this certificate”, the UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus said.
The UN Resident Coordinator underlined that in order to maintain the status confirmed by WHO, Belarus has to implement one of Global Validation Committee’s recommendations, which is to remove disease-specific articles 157 and 158 of the criminal code regarding HIV and STIs exposure and transmission.
To date, 87% of people living with HIV in Belarus are receiving antiretroviral therapy. Thanks to the availability of effective antiretroviral therapy, HIV is now a chronic disease, not a fatal one. Attracting attention to the problem, reliably informing the population about the main prevention measures and diagnostic methods, as well as creating a social environment that excludes stigma and discrimination in relation to the topic of HIV/AIDS, help to reverse the HIV epidemic.