The role of education and modern ICTs for HIV prevention were brought onto the agenda of the Fifth International Conference on HIV and AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECAAC 2016) that took place in Moscow, on 23-25 March.
UNESCO IITE participated in the conference and contributed to several activities where prevention education, needs of adolescents living with HIV, and role of media and ICTs in HIV response were discussed. Mr. Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO regional HIV advisor opened the parallel session on the role of state and civil society in primary prevention with a reflection of what works and what does not in HIV education. Building on data from UNESCO’s global and regional research, he shared examples of good and bad practice in school-based health education, and spoke about positive impact that comprehensive sexuality education can have on sexual and reproductive health notably contributing towards reducing HIV and STIs and unintended pregnancy.
Ms. Yulia Plakhutina, UNESCO health education project manager, together with UNAIDS and UNICEF colleagues and Alexandra Ilieva, UNESCO’s intern worked with a “Teenergizer”, a group of adolescents who came to the conference to voice the concerns of teenagers living with HIV. Yana Panfilova, the group leader, spoke at the conference opening session in the presence of the Russian Vice-Prime Minister, several ministers of health from EECA countries, representatives of different confessions and civil society organizations. She underscored the importance of sexuality education for all teenagers and necessity to overcome discrimination against people living with HIV in schools. She also mentioned other challenges, which adolescents including those who live with HIV face across the region: age and parental consent related barriers to HIV testing, poor quality of counselling and problems with adherence to treatment.
The role of media, including the Internet and social networks were the focus of discussion at UNAIDS open dialogue space. It became one of the most popular events of the conference thanks to Vera Brezhneva, a singer and actress and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador. She presented the regional HIV testing campaign “Concerns even those who are not concerned” which was launched by UNAIDS last December in cooperation with UNESCO, UNICEF and national partners almost in all EECA countries. The campaign’s digital platform OK.RUTEST developed by UNESCO IITE in cooperation with “Odnoklassniki” – one the leading social media networks in the region – gained over 58 thousand members.
The conference adopted an Outcome Statement which called governments to reaffirm their commitment to the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and to achieve the 90-90-90* targets by 2020 in all countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The conference was organized by Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) and UNAIDS. It brought together over 2,500 participants from 79 countries and featured over 350 plenary and parallel sessions designed around 3 tracks: Medicine & Science, International Cooperation, and Civil Society.
For more information about the conference see here.