Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

Fuck EECAAC: Picket the AIDS conference organized by the Russian government

IMG_1287-e1523892013266-300x300«… You are ready to go and walk around there in a hall, eat lunches,  drink Coca-Cola or whatever else happens there… knowing that this money, to put it simply, could have been spent on HIV prevention? I mean, roughly speaking, this money was stolen from the people. Well, are you ready to be a puppet in this stage show?…»

The conference on HIV / AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECAAC-2018), organized by the Russian government, will be held for the sixth time in Moscow on April 18-20. For the third time in a row, Andrey Rylkov Foundation is boycotting the conference and encourages others to refuse to participate in the event. We are going to hold a series of single pickets against the conference from 9 till 11 every morning.

From our activists’ perspective, this event is an ostentatious farce designed to create a false image that the Russian government is actually interested in taking effective measures to combat HIV. In fact, apart from circulating huge amounts of money by investing in pretentious hypocritical activities, there is no work being done in Russia to prevent HIV.

Russia is the third country in the world with the fastest growing HIV epidemic after South Africa and Nigeria. Nearly two-thirds of European HIV cases are now in Russia and it is the only European country with a rising rate of new HIV infections. While most of the countries globally have been able to get their epidemics under control and some already strive towards zero new infections and zero AIDS deaths, in Russia, ten people get infected every hour. In 2017 alone over 100,000 new cases were registered and almost 32 thousand people died of AIDS. Such a drastic public health crisis is not the result of fate but from the government’s total inaction and refusal to provide effective prevention of HIV. The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and other responsible authorities deliberately refuse to carry out effective treatment and prevention programs of HIV among the most affected populations, therefore exposing their citizens to the risks of disease and death. The actions of this government are criminal in their nature. Here are the main reasons why we oppose this conference in Russia:

1. Open and aggressive sabotage of HIV prevention. The Russian government is opposed to taking an effective science-based approach to HIV prevention and instead is in favor of repression, criminalization, and discrimination of the most vulnerable and affected populations including: people who use drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men;

2. Russia is one of the few countries in the world that deports HIV-positive foreigners;

3. The Russian government sponsors homophobia and transphobia, a number of homophobic laws are currently in action in the country, all of which result in an atmosphere of hatred, physical and moral violence against members of the LGBTKI community and MSM;

4. The occupation of Ukraine and promotion of conflict on the territory of Ukraine has resulted not only in war but also in the deprivation and restriction of access to vital and important medicines for the most affected populations and people living with HIV;

5. Criminalization of methadone in substitution therapy of drug dependence not only leads to a number of deaths and imprisonment for thousands of Russian citizens but also limits the participation of activists from other countries in the region who are currently taking part in substitution treatment programs;

6. Russian authorities and agencies are waging an aggressive war against NGOs engaged in evidence-based HIV prevention. They block any access to funding for such NGOs and label them as foreign agents. As a result of this fight, many NGOs have been closed, others still continue to work at their own risk and are faced with constant threats of repression by the government.

The Russian government is deliberately exposing its citizens to diseases, death, imprisonment and depriving them of access to HIV prevention programs. The reason for this isn’t because there is a lack of knowledge, absence of convincing speeches or scientific research, no, it’s a deliberate political position of the Russian government. The conference is a beautiful velvet curtain that covers a genocide backstage. 


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