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SWAN Members Mark 1 December, World AIDS Day

In addition to translating into national languages and distributing to the media the Swan Statement on The Occasion of the World AIDS Day (see the full text at the beginning of this issue of the News), SWAN members organized a number of public events on and around 1 December. More

HOPS, SWAN member from Macedonia had numerous activities on 1 December. The outreach teams distributed Red Ribbons, condoms, lubricant and leaflets to sex workers, pimps, protectors, potential clients and random individuals on the streets of Skopje. Red Ribbons were handmade by the youngsters who visited the Youth Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health operating in the local Roma community. Students involved the community in a group discussion on HIV/AIDS and condom use. Condoms, lubricants and leaflets were distributed in three night clubs, at a student party in one of the biggest dormitories in Skopje, at two rock festivals, in a shopping mall and in front of several cinemas.

Under the moto "Power of prevention", JAZAS, SWAN member from Serbia, organized on 1 December free counceling and HIV testing in a mobile medical unit parked for that occassion on the main square in Belgrade. JAZAS also distributed leaflets and booklets on HIV prevention. In the evening hours the mobile unit visited various parts of the cuty and organized councelling, HIV testing and condoms and leaflets distribution to street sex workers.

In collaboration with several local NGOs, Coalition I Can Live, SWAN member from Lithuania, started a new joint project with Lithuanian Red Cross Association. The project, launched on a press conference on 30 November, will provide services to people living with HIV. This will be the first time in Lithuania that an independent group provides such services - so far they were given exclusively by the government-run AIDS Center. In the end of November the Coalition released a study on sex work in Lithuania. The study, result of a three-year long research, lists recommendations to the government, among them to decriminalize prostitution (see separate article in this issue of SWAN News).

Kyrgyz SWAN member Tais Plus on 30 November started collecting signatures on a petition to stop violent behavior of the representatives of the law enforcement agencies against sex workers in that country – namely, to stop police raids against street prostitutes. The petition will be handed to the Ministry of Interior on 17 December, the International Day to Stop Violence against Sex Workers. In the meantime, a public discussion on the issue will be organized with representatives of law enforcement agency, and the Declaration of Rights of Sex Workers in Europe will be promoted in this Central Asian country.

Aksion Plus, SWAN member from Albania initiated a “marathon week” with diverse activities that were finalized on 1 December. Aksion Plus succeeded in including sex workers as one of the most vulnerable groups to HIV in a declaration which will be sent to the Albanian Parliament. A special Newsletter dedicated to sex work issues was published in end of November. In collaboration with Ministry of Education, Aksion Plus organized peer education lectures and discussion about HIV-AIDS in five high schools in Tirana. Prepared were essay competitions, art exhibitions and class quiz shows on the topic. Volunteers distributed condoms and leaflets to the students in front of the schools. Topics such as inclusion of students living with HIV in the classes, and “keeping the promise to fight HIV/AIDS” were debated at school classes.

ARAS, SWAN Member from Romania together with a coalition of Romanian NGOs distributed leaflets and red ribbons. A new drop-in center was opened on the occasion in Bucharest. ARAS representative participated in a BBC talk/show on HIV, in which the issues of sex workers were raised.

TADA, SWAN member from Poland gave an exclusive interview, focusing on HIV, STI, sex work and sex workers’ rights. The interview was aired on 1 December on the Polish National TV.
Distribution of red ribbons, condoms, lubricants and printed material to sex workers was organized by HESED, SWAN member from Bulgaria. Association of Hungarian Prostitutes, SWAN Member from Hungary organized free HIV-testing for sex workers.
Siberian Action, SWAN Member from Russia distributed leaflets, a newsletter prepared for sex workers, condoms, lubricants, and red ribbons.
Testing centers open their doors for free testing and counseling in three cities by Bliss Without Risk, SWAN member from Czech Republic.