On April 18, a presentation of a new edition of the HIV/AIDS Information Strategy for 2019-2023 developed by the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in consultation with state, international, and non-governmental organizationы was conducted in Minsk.
UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki and Natalia Zhukova, Deputy Minister of Health, Chief State Sanitary Officer of Belarus, took part in the signing ceremony.
In her speech Deputy Minister of Health said that HIV problem remains an urgent challenge for Belarus. Today, there are 21,000 HIV-positive people. It is very important to build public understanding of the mission of journalists, the community, non-governmental organizations, and all those who create the environment free from stigma and discrimination, the environment providing equal conditions for all. It is necessary to enable people to learn about their status and have access to treatment; and the level of treatment should be high enough to allow for safe and free living in our society.
UN Resident Coordinator emphasized that the Republic of Belarus pays consideration to communication related to HIV/AIDS issues. The Information Strategy does not only reflect best practices of medical professionals but also considers international and local experience of the experts who know how to communicate about HIV. As Ms. Kazana Kazana-Wisniowiecki said, the most important role belongs to the Ministry of Healthcare, the Parliament, and a number of other state and non-governmental bodies. Belarus is a regional example of how the awareness-building efforts should be carried out.
“Language shapes the way we think and influences our behaviour. The calculated and smart use of terms and definitions helps consolidate global counter-measures of fight against HIV epidemic. This is why information strategy is a useful tool for mass media, activists, and people making decisions related to HIV-AIDS issues in Belarus», - said Ms. Kazana-Wisniowiecki in her speech.
Later in the day, the ceremony was held to appoint the Olympic champion, four-time world champion, and three-time champion of Europe Alexei Yagudin a special UNAIDS ambassador at the II European Games. Yagudin was introduced at the meeting by the UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Vinay Saldanha.
Taking the stage after receiving the Special Ambassador's certificate Alexei Yagudin stressed the importance of inclusion and non-discrimination of people living with HIV. “It is necessary to raise awareness and understanding that these (HIV-infected people) are people who want to live and enjoy life. They should be welcomed with open heart by the society and everything should be done to help them not to be outcast,” - said the Olympic champion who also emphasized his readiness to bring up the subject during all his meetings with both young people and senior generation.
HIV/AIDS Information Strategy in the Republic of Belarus was developed in accordance with the subprogram HIV Prevention of the state program on Health of the Nation and Demographic Security in the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2020 as part of implementation of commitments undertaken by Belarus in terms of achieving UNAIDS 90-90-90 strategic targets and realization of Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS adopted at the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on June 8, 2016.
On 14 March 2019, the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS and the II European Games Organizing Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The aim of the Memorandum is to develop and strengthen cooperation for the sake of popularization of safe and healthy life style, elimination of all forms of discrimination, and prevention of HIV/AIDS spread by means of educational and humanitarian legacy of the II European Games. The cooperation provides for a wide range of activities to contribute to achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and expansion of partnership of Belarus and the United Nations Organization with the purpose to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.