Vera Brezhneva, Zara, Irina Starshenbaum and Other Celebrities Support Women with HIV during Live Talk at Odnoklassniki

Shortly before World AIDS Day, Odnoklassniki, one of Russia’s most popular social networks, hosted a live event in support of #VOPREKI (#InSpiteOf) campaign in collaboration with the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and UNESCO IITE.

#VOPREKI campaign features 15 videos telling the stories of women of different ages and nationalities who live with HIV in Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) and have not only coped with their diagnosis, society’s stereotypes and other challenging circumstances but are now helping others.

Their stories relate to various aspects of living with HIV and bust the stereotypes and myths which surround HIV testing and treatment, motherhood and adoption with HIV, disclosing one’s HIV status to partners and children, enjoying one’s right to work, living with HIV in custody, being a labor migrant with HIV, resisting violence and drug abuse, and contributing to HIV education and prevention.

There is a common thread among the stories of women featured in #VOPREKI campaign: all these women, in the darkest moment of their lives, received assistance and support from their loved ones, women’s organizations and communities.

Celebrities such as singer Zara, Irina Starshenbaum, Lyubov Aksenova and other popular actresses voiced their support of #VOPREKI campaign and read poems to the accompaniment of Anton Sevidov (the Tesla boy band). Vera Brezhneva, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, was a special guest of the live event. At the end of the broadcast, Vera stressed the importance of speaking honestly and openly about HIV so that everyone who needs treatment, assistance and support may receive them.

“Be sure to listen and share #VOPREKI stories! They are not only about one’s right to live with dignity, to love and to be happy. They are also about these women’s amazing power, spirit and will to live despite all odds. Each one of us has her own #VOPREKI – in spite of – so let us support those who made it and let us inspire those who still doubt their power,” urged Vera Brezhneva, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador.

Vera Brezhneva, Vinay Saldanha, Zara (c) Ivan Gushchin

The Tell the Truth live broadcast received 3.5 million views in Odnoklassniki and almost 5,000 user responses. On December 1st, all official profiles in this social network featured a red ribbon – a symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness.

See more campaign materials in

Instagram @Vopreki_women