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Viney Saldana: UNAIDS welcomes the actions taken by Belarus to counter the discrimination of PLWH

March 02, 2018

Belarus made a big step forward in combating discrimination against people living with HIV. Viney Saldana, UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern Europe & Central Asia, stated this at a special joint event dedicated to the Zero Discrimination Day.

“We welcome the actions taken by the government to eliminate all remaining obstacles related to discrimination against people living with HIV. This is not only a more humane approach. Thus, people will not be embarrassed that they have HIV infection, they will more actively seek testing, treatment, they will tell their relatives and friends that this topic is important”, Viney Saldana said.

It should be noted that at the end of last year the Ministry of Health of Belarus adopted a resolution allowing PLHIV to adopt children and register guardianship rights. According to Sergei Kruchinin, UNAIDS Communication and PR Specialist in Belarus, this is a big step forward. Previously it was forbidden by laws applicable at that time.

Unfortunately, we still cannot cure HIV, but while a person is on treatment, the concentration of the virus in their body is suppressed to such a level that the person no longer spreads it”, Viney Saldana added.

UNAIDS estimates that Belarus demonstrates good results in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2016, the country was the first one in Europe to obtain a certificate from the World Health Organization confirming the elimination of the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child. Every year Belarus re-confirms this certificate.

The participants of the event highlighted the significant successes of Belarus in this area and agreed that further steps are required to improve the legislation. In general, the republic has all chances to become the first country in the EECA region, which will achieve all the goals related to overcoming of discrimination and curbing HIV/AIDS.

The International Zero Discrimination Day has a special meaning and message for the Ministry of Health, said Natalia Zhukova, the Deputy Minister of Health and the Chief State Sanitation Doctor of Belarus. Everybody – government, NGOs, international funds – is focused on the most important task to reduce the prevalence of HIV infection. “Adherence to treatment is the main challenge which we must address today”, she said. The Deputy Minister added that 19,231 HIV-positive people are registered in the country as of the moment. However, there are those who live with HIV infection, but do not yet know about it.

The event “Partnership for Safe and Efficient Support in Connection with HIV/AIDS” was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly with the Ministry of Health and UNAIDS within the framework of the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan for 2016-2019. Parliamentarians, representatives of state bodies, the diplomatic corps, international and non-governmental organizations took part in the event.

The Zero Discrimination Day is celebrated by the UN since 2014. It was established on the UNAIDS initiative. The main goal is to draw attention to the problems of people with HIV and AIDS both from the point of view of medication-based treatment and overcoming stereotyped attitudes towards such people and preventing their discrimination.

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