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NGOs appeal to the Russian Government to abolish the provision on deportation of HIV+ foreigners

May 22, 2018

35 leaders of public organizations from Eastern Europe and Central Asia signed an appeal to the Chairman of the Government of Russia with a request to abolish the provision on the deportation of HIV-positive foreigners, which obsolete and senseless from the epidemiological control point of view.

“The deportation provision does not protect the citizens of the Russian Federation in any way, but the harm caused by it is quite visible for hundreds of HIV-positive foreigners. Having been denied a residence permit or a labor patent, they most often do not have the opportunity to drastically change their plans and go home to get enrolled with the AIDS center. Most of them remain in the metropolitan areas illegally and lose all contact with medical institutions, for fear of deportation. For many, such underground life lasts for years and often ends in getting into intensive care in a severe condition caused by HIV”, says Daniil Kashnitskyi, consultant of the ECUO and expert on migrants’ health.

“While migrants, for example, from Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan or from Tajikistan, in principle, have the opportunity to receive free therapy in their home country, there are also outright blatant situations, as in the case of HIV-positive citizens of Turkmenistan. There are no alternatives to migrants from Turkmenistan at all, if we are talking about legal ways of receiving treatment”, says Kirill Barskyi, coordinator of the projects of the Moscow foundation “Steps”. “Having returned to Turkmenistan and having passed the confirmatory test for HIV, they always receive an answer that they have a negative test. This has already happened to several people who undergo medical and social support in the “Steps” fund. All that is left for them to do is to look for a paid treatment here in Russia, because in Turkmenistan there is simply no such service. And those who are out of out coverage, those who are left alone with their status, these are the people for whom I am worried the most. They hide, try to stay in the shade, and no one knows what will happen to them. They have no right to receive treatment anywhere, even in their own country”.

The signatories to the appeal:
7 leaders of Russian organizations,
6 leaders of Kazakhstan organizations,
5 leaders of Kyrgyzstan organizations, 4 leaders of Armenian organizations,
2 leaders of Moldovan organizations, 3 heads of Ukrainian organizations,
2 leaders of Belarusian organizations, as well as one director of organizations of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Latvia and Georgia.

The Minus-Virus platform will monitor the development of the situation.

Text of the letter:

Dmitry Medvedev
Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation
Form HIV-servicing organizations of the EECA countries

Dear Dmitry Anatolievich!

In accordance with the State Strategy for Combating the Spread of HIV Infection till 2020, the Government of the Russian Federation undertook to reduce the number of new HIV infections, increase the coverage of the population with medical HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy, reduce the incidence of complications and death from HIV-associated diseases.

One of the serious barriers to the implementation of the commitments undertaken within the framework of the State Strategy is the provision on the deportation of foreign citizens diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus, which has been in effect since 1995 in accordance with Federal Law No. 38 “On preventing the spread of the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus” in Russia.

According to numerous statements of expert community and patient organizations representatives at the IV International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia recently held in Moscow, this restrictive measure is not effective and only exacerbates the latent epidemic. In practice, it leads to the situation where migrants with a suspected or already diagnosed HIV fall out of coverage by medical and migration services, staying in the country illegally because of fear of deportation. In fact, surveillance and medical care in this case turn out to be punitive rather than supportive measures in terms of HIV response.
As a result, HIV-positive foreigners often get admitted to hospitals and emergency units in a severe, neglected condition due to HIV infection. Often, improper self-treatment leads to the emergence of resistant strains of HIV, which, in turn, aggravates the HIV epidemic in Russia and increases the burden on the state budget.

The deportation provision is also not expedient from the point of view of epidemiological control. To date, about 80% of new HIV infections in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region occur in the Russian Federation. The prevalence of HIV in the key countries of labor migration origin (Uzbekistan – 0.16%, Tajikistan – 0.3%, Kyrgyzstan – 0.2%, Moldova – 0.2% of the adult population), is several times lower than in the Russian Federation (more than 1% of the adult population).

Countries from which the major labor migration flows originate, provide their HIV-positive citizens with antiretroviral therapy. Treatment of foreigners with HIV infection may be ensured in the future within the framework of intergovernmental agreements providing for a system of mutual settlements between countries, or within the framework of organized intercountry supplies of drugs, which will avoid additional burden on the Russian Federation budget.

Modern antiretroviral therapy allows a HIV-positive individual to effectively achieve suppression of the virus, live a full life and participate in the economic activities of the country.

In 2016, Minister of Health of the Russian Federation Veronika Skvortsova at the meeting of the UN General Assembly on HIV/AIDS said that the possibility of removing restrictions for foreign citizens with HIV infection on entry into the Russian Federation is being considered. However, two years later, the deportation provision is still in effect.

Regardless of the stage of intercountry arrangements for providing access to HIV treatment, we ask you, if possible and as soon as possible, as part of the implementation of the State Strategy for Combating the Spread of HIV, take special control over the revision of the conditions for entry / exit and stay of foreign citizens infected with HIV on the territory of the Russian Federation, supporting the initiative of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation in this issue, so that measures to counteract the epidemic are really effective, and migrants could receive lawful access to medical services.

Avraamyan Varuzhan, Chairman, NGO “Potential for Awakening”, Yerevan, Armenia
Alseitov Kanat, President, Public Foundation “Balakay-Shymkent”, Shymkent, Kazakhstan
Amanzholov Nurali, President, Association of Legal Entities “Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV”
Bakulin Mikhail, General Director, Positive Oblast oblast CSO, Moscow Region, Russian Federation
Bilokon Yelena, Director, Public Foundation “Fund of Women Living with HIV”, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Burlak Alexey, Director, OF “Positive Initiative”, Orenburg, Russian Federation
Veikenieks Andris, Chairman of the Board of AGIHAS, Riga, Latvia
Gabrielyan Sergey, President, New Generation NGO, Yerevan, Armenia
Dymaretsky Oleg, director, CO “Meridian”, Poltava, Ukraine
Yeremin Oleg, Chairman of the Coordination Committee, BelSet Anti-AIDS Association
Yermolaeva Irena, Director of OF “Asteria”, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Zholnerova Natalia, Director, Amelia Public Association, Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan
Zverkov Konstantin, Chairman of the Board, NGO “Era of Mercy”, Odessa, Ukraine
Islamova Shahnaz, Director of the public organization “Tais Plus”, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Kamilova Sevar, Director, NGO “Guli Surkh”, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Kropinov Alexei, Chairman of the Board, Kaluga Oblast CSO “We will Live”, Kaluga Region, Russian Federation
Kulshis Svetlana, President of the Association of Women Vulnerable to HIV and Their Relatives, Vilnius, Lithuania
Kurmanov Sanzhar, Executive Director, NGO Labris, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Mayilian Zhenya, President, NGO “Real World, Real People”, Yerevan, Armenia
Margaryan Nvard, President, NGO “Public Information and Need for Knowledge”, Yerevan, Armenia
Mayanovskiy Vladimir, President, Center+ NGO, Moscow, Russian Federation
Mraeva Albina, Director, CF “Svetoch”, Naberezhnye Chelny, Russian Federation
Mulyar Vyacheslav, Program Coordinator, GenderDoc-M Information Center, Chisinau, Moldova
Musaev Erkin, President of CF “Prosvet”, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Orsekov Daniyar, Executive Director, NGO “Kyrgyz Indigo”
Pchelin Igor, Chairman of the Board of the “Steps” anti-AIDS foundation
Statkevich Irina, Chairman of the Board of the Belarusian NGO “Positive Movement”, Minsk, Belarus
Tvaliashvili Lasha, Executive Director, NGO “Real People, Real Vision”, Tbilisi, Georgia
Tomcinski Wojciech, co-chair of the “East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV”, regional organization
Untura Lyudmila, Executive Director, League of People Living with HIV, Chisinau, Moldova
Uchaev Sergey, Chairman, NGO Ishonch va Hayot, Association of People Living with HIV, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tsunik Vyacheslav, President, Rostov-on-Don oblast NGO “Kovcheg-Anti-AIDS”, Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation
Sharifov Nofal, Chairperson of the CSO on countering AIDS, Baku, Azerbaijan
Shvets Dmitry, Executive Director, OF “Ranar”, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Yatsko Alla, Chairman, Union of organizations working in the field of HIV prevention, Balti, Moldova

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