Experts recommend fighting the HIV epidemic at the local level
The final conference in ‘We Choose Life – Youth against HIV/AIDS’ has taken place in the capital. It was organised by the Russian national network ‘Healthy Cities’ under the leadership of the Baltic Regional Association.
The co-ordinator of the Russian network Yuliya Abrosimova, said that fighting the HIV epidemic was a factor in the maintenance of public health, which was why ‘Healthy Cities’ was engaged in work on this subject. In the spring of 2008 four cities in the network, Dmitrovgrad (Ulyanovskaya Oblast), Izhevsk, Stavropol and Cherepovetz (Vologodskaya Oblast) became participants in a new project aimed at lowering the illness rate amongst young people and the risk of HIV infection by increasing the information available about the virus and AIDS. Although the work was being carried out in the interests of the young, the main target group so far as the organisers were concerned consisted of the representatives of the local authority. In an interview with the ASI correspondent, Ms Abrosimova explained that to fight the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic inter-agency co-operation was essential at the level of an individual city and that could be attained only with the help of the local authorities.
The first phase of the work would be a monitoring exercise in the participating cities. The chief medical officer of the city prevention centre who is co-ordinating the project in Stavropol said that around 300 residents had taken part in a survey. In Dmitrovgrad 500 people were surveyed. The data obtained in all the cities was circulated to officials and journalists. This served as a basis for discussing the issues of HIV/AIDS that had not received attention at this level previously. The medic summed up the position as follows: ‘Collecting the statistics gave us the opportunity to define the groups at risk and bring the data to the attention of those who work with youth, and to support the groups proactively engaging with the problems of HIV’,
Project participants went to a number of seminars including in Rotterdam, and on the basis of what they experienced there held meetings in their own cities for the purpose of working up action plans for fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Volunteer groups were also set up, and information exercises undertaken with reports and advertisements about the problem in the local mass media.
A medical expert working on the WHO programme on the fight against HIV/AIDS said that the 'Healthy Cities' experience was most interesting. WHO experts will be looking at the results of the project with a view to possibly recommending its replication in all Russian regions.