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Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Russia campaigns against Aids fear

By Sarah Rainsford
BBC correspondent in Moscow

A new nationwide campaign has been launched in Russia aimed at fighting prejudice and fear surrounding HIV and Aids.

Russia has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world.

Russian HIV/Aids volunteer
Many Russians believe people with HIV should be isolated
But in a poll conducted for the campaign, almost 70% of those surveyed in Moscow said they felt fear, anger or disgust towards people living with the virus.

The message of this campaign is knowledge, and tolerance.

"People among us are living with HIV", the new television advert explains, "but we can still talk to them and work together: we can still be friends."

It is a simple message, but campaign organisers say it is vitally important here - their first tiny step in the huge battle against prejudice.

Tolerance

A survey conducted for the project revealed that fear and ignorance about HIV remain widespread in Russia. Many of those polled, believe people living with the virus, should do so in isolation.

Tatyana Grechukhina was taken aback by the strength of negative feeling she found. She hopes the new adverts and posters can make a difference.

"We at least can make first step in changing this kind of attitude - and make people understand that they live in world where HIV and Aids is a reality already," she said.

"People need to learn how to live in this world, and how to cope with this infection - and be more tolerant to people who is already HIV positive."

Experts estimate as many as six people are diagnosed HIV-positive in Russia every hour.

And they warn the number of Aids deaths is set to rise sharply unless access to treatment is improved.

One official estimate says only 4% of people living with HIV currently receive the medical care they need.




SEE ALSO:
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03 Dec 03  |  Europe


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