HIV response in Eastern Europe cannot succeed without civil societyOct 30, 2014
30 October, Tbilisi, Georgia – Cooperation between government and civil society is essential in fulfilling the rights of people living with HIV. Rights gaps include breach of confidentiality, stigma and discrimination, and criminalization of the behavior of key populations, concluded an international dialogue today in Tbilisi, Georgia, in which bottlenecks and obstacles to universal access to prevention, treatment and care were addressed.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia comprise one of two regions in the world where new HIV infections are still on the rise, with an estimated 1.6 million people living with HIV. The AIDS mortality rate climbed by 22 percent between 2005-2012 in the region. Moreover, levels of treatment are low with only 25 to 35 percent of those in need of antiretroviral therapy are receiving it.
Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and with the financial support of the European Union, civil society leaders and government representatives from eleven countries in the region discussed the next steps in HIV, rights and universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support.
More than 70 participants from civil society and government from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan took part. The delegations included people living with HIV, activists involved in HIV responses and providers of HIV-related services, representatives of ministries of health, law enforcement, media and others. The dialogue was supported by representatives of international organization working in the field of HIV.
“HIV is a matter of human rights. According to international human rights law states have the obligation to undertake legal, financial and administrative measures to bring these rights as close as possible to the highest standards of health”, said Evgeniy Spevak from the Eurasian and Belarusian unions of people living with HIV.
Both government representatives and non-government organizations agreed that civil society plays a crucial role in service delivery, advocacy and access to key populations most at risk of HIV infection. Without such cooperation, bottlenecks will remain.
The Dialogue is a conclusive part of a two-year regional project on HIV, Rights and universal access in Eastern Europe, carried out by more than a dozen non-governmental organizations in partnership with UNDP, the International Development Law Organization. The project is co-financed by the European Union.
Cherie Hart, UNDP in Istanbul: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie Tchitchinadze, UNDP Georgia: 599 196907 (mobile), email@example.com
The Regional Dialogue in social media: