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Russia: Sex worker comes out of closet at a round table in Moscow, in front of officials, media and UNAIDS representatives

The round table took place on June 6, 2007, in the World Bank’s Moscow Office. State representatives, NGOs, HIV positive communities and decision-makers were discussing the need to implement and expand programs aimed at prevention, treatment, care and support of HIV positive women and girls.

Representatives of Humanitarian Action, SWAN member from St Petersburg, Russia, were invited as a part of the team of women activist from organizations representing interests of people living with HIV in Moldova, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia, to tell the participants about an exchange project that included visits to 5 capitals of former USSR (Armenia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine). Together with other key partners they discussed the necessity to implement and expand the programs aimed at primary HIV prevention among women as well as programs ensuring access to treatment, care and support for HIV-positive women.

“My personal impression from the meeting is that journalists have rather positive attitude and are ready to engage in a dialogue; this should be used in by sex workers’ rights advocates” – says Irina Maslova from Humanitarian Action.

“The authorities present at the meeting were trying to show what they had accomplished and how everybody is concerned that HIV has a “female face”, BUT nobody could clearly explain why the paragraph on access to medical services for sex workers was extracted from the National Project. That is when I decided that I really can not and don’t want to keep silent any more. I stood up and spoke up. I revealed my sex worker status and explained why we need support, how we can help the state and why our voice should be heard” – says Maslova.

Her statement was followed by dead silence, interrupted only by the sound of camera flashes.

Present were, among others, representatives of leading Russian mainstream media; UNAIDS Russia Deputy Director; Deputy Head of the HIV-Monitoring Center of the Russian Federation; representatives of the Federal AIDS Center; Vise President of the Medical Support Development Office of the Russia’s Ministry of Health...

Contact person: Irina Maslova
Email: club.silver.rose@gmail.com
About Humanitarian Action 

Website: www.humanitarianaction.org