This year, on 1 March, Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS and UNESCO called on people around the world to support the global campaign “Make some noise“ aimed at combating stigma and discrimination. As everyone has the right to be treated with respect, to live free from discrimination, coercion and abuse.
To support the campaign, Vera Brezhneva, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, in partnership with UNAIDS RST for EECA, IITE UNESCO and the leading regional social media network OK.RU, held a live meeting with those, for whom discrimination is not just a word. Stigma and discrimination is forcing many people living with HIV to hide their status, so as not to face misunderstanding and prejudice in medical and educational institutions, while searching for a job or communicating with others.
What if a physician learnt about his/her patient’s HIV-status and demonstrated indelicacy? How to react if other people became aware of a child’s HIV-status and bullied her or him? How to live “openly” in harmony with your inner self and outer world? Vera Brezhneva together with her guests tried to answer these questions in order to solve a major dilemma: either to speak up or stay silent.
People openly living with HIV shared their inspiring stories of self-acceptance and overcoming barriers. Health and education experts provided their comments. Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO Regional Advisor, explained why schools should not ask students or teachers for their HIV status and what headmasters shall do if someone in school becomes known to be living with HIV:
«Students or staff members are not required to disclose HIV infection status to anyone in the education system. A student with HIV infection has the same right to attend school and receive services as any other student, and will be subject to the same rules and policies. HIV infection shall not factor into decisions concerning exclusion, expulsion or transfer of a student. […] Over thirty years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there have not been any reported cases of HIV being transmitted from child to child or child to staff member in an educational institution. Hence, fears and worries regarding this are groundless».
The live broadcast received an incredible response from OK.RU social network users. To date, it got more than 1 million views.
The talk show recording is available at OK.RU/TEST social network community (created by UNESCO and UNAIDS specially to support the HIV testing campaign running in Eastern Europe and Central Asia) under the following link.