Creating change for the better for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS—whether in the area of treatment, prevention, education, novel partnerships, or community development—is multifaceted work. And many have stepped up to the challenge in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).
Meet Tony, a non-binary activist from Georgia, who works to amplify the voices of local transgender people as they advocate for HIV.
Meet Lyubov, a woman living with HIV from Kazakhstan, who educates staff in healthcare institutions and shelter homes for women experiencing homelessness about HIV stigma and discrimination.
Meet Vera, a woman living with HIV from Russia, who heads up a local organization that provides community-based services for people impacted by HIV, including people who use drugs and people who have been previously incarcerated.
Meet Svyatoslav, from Kazakhstan, who is at the helm of a local organization that reaches out to men who have sex with men in the country’s largest city to help end the HIV epidemic.
A new campaign, introduced at the 18th European AIDS Conference, seeks to honor and celebrate a diverse range of people living with HIV and their community partners in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) by helping to tell their stories. The campaign is called RADIAN Changemakers and it was created by the Elton John AIDS Foundation in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia has been hard hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic; it is one of the few regions in the world where the annual HIV infection rates continues to increase. Currently, an estimated 1.6 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in EECA.
Alongside Changemakers, the RADIAN partnership also features the RADIAN “Model Cities” program, which provides substantial funding to HIV-focused efforts in key EECA cities and regions, and the RADIAN “Unmet Need” fund, which supports initiatives across EECA that focus on HIV prevention and care, education, community empowerment, and novel partnerships.
David Furnish, Chairman, Board, Elton John AIDS Foundation, said in a prepared release: “It’s critical that we, the global HIV community, continue to shine a light on the epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, but also that we recognise ending AIDS in the region is an achievable goal. We are proud and excited to be able to recognise the remarkable work being delivered by the RADIAN Changemakers and hope that sharing their stories will inspire us all to continue to work for change in the region.”
Alex Kalomparis, Vice President, Public Affairs, International, Gilead Sciences, stated: “To leave no one behind in the global efforts to end HIV and AIDS, the RADIAN Changemakers campaign emphasises our commitment to going where the need is greatest, and supporting the people most affected by HIV. We are excited to share the remarkable stories of these people who are the leaders in ending this epidemic.”
Vera, a RADIAN Changemaker from Yekaterinburg, Russia, was prompted by her own HIV diagnosis to work steadfastly to help others like herself in need, creating an organization that supports people living with and at risk of HIV: “We are just one of many community partners across the region who are making a real difference to key populations affected by HIV. It’s critical that we have the opportunity to share our learnings and build partnerships to create a more effective HIV response here. Although we have unique challenges to overcome, there are truly inspiring community-led projects and programmes which will help end AIDS in EECA. I am so proud to be part of the RADIAN Changemakers campaign; I hope creating awareness of the work we are doing in Russia will inspire others to address the urgent needs of the key populations affected by the HIV epidemic in EECA.”
For more information about RADIAN, the Changemakers campaign and the RADIAN “Model Cities” programme, visit: www.radianhiv.org.