PEAH is pleased to publish a piece by AFEW partner organization. AFEW is dedicated to improving the health of key populations in society. With a focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia, AFEW strives to promote health and increase access to prevention, treatment and care for major public health concerns including - though not limited to - HIV, TB, viral hepatitis, and sexual and reproductive health
By Olga Shelevakho
Communications Officer, AFEW International
‘See What Matters’ Campaign
Combating Stigma to End HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA)
AFEW Partnership has launched a social impact campaign «See What Matters» as a part of the project “Combating stigma to end HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA)”.
Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV continue to exist and affect various areas of human life, thereby creating barriers and obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment and seriously reducing the overall quality of life of those affected.
Self-stigma of PLHIV remains the most pressing issue for EECA countries. Findings from studies conducted in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine showed a high level of self stigma among people living with HIV: 81.3%-91.2% of PLHIV surveyed conceal their HIV-positive status from others, half of respondents feel guilt and shame about their HIV status.
HIV infection is still associated with “inappropriate sexual behavior” and belonging to marginalized populations. Women are the most susceptible to HIV-related stigma. HIV stigma in women is associated with rejection by family and friends, society, feelings of insecurity and loss, low self-esteem, fear, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and even suicide attempts
To reduce the self-stigma of women living with HIV and affected by HIV and to change societal attitudes towards them through reducing social stigma, AFEW Partnership developed the project “Combating stigma to end HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA)”.
In 2022, we conducted a survey among women living with HIV, most vulnerable to HIV and affected by HIV (including the mothers of children with HIV), showing the challenges they face in their daily lives. Based on these responses, we created a media campaign in the “animadoc” style, which allowed us to combine artistic elements with realistic ones. Here we use direct quotes of the women involved, photographs of their eyes, and their real voices in national languages as a voiceover.
The campaign materials are freely available in English/Russian, as well as Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Ukrainian languages, and include videos and other materials that can be used for online and offline promotion. You can find them on the official website of the campaign.
The “See What Matters” campaign was developed in the scope of the project “Combatting stigma to end HIV/AIDS in EECA”, implemented by the AFEW Partnership with financial support from Gilead. We would like to thank local organisations and communities of women living with HIV in the region for our collaboration – “Positive Women” in Ukraine, Public fund “Country Network of Women Affected by HIV” in Kyrgyzstan and “ISHONCH VA HAYOT” in Uzbekistan.
Official website of the campaign WWW.STOPSTIGMA.HIV The report “Results of assessing the level of stigma and discrimination of women living with HIV in the EECA Region” - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gyY-BqMeUxkkrrAXVVFnBbTUVEhxdz8B/view Links for the videos - https://youtu.be/fNHzhdq30N4 https://youtu.be/JIwSWf_qgdo Official news item - https://afew.org/see-what-matters/