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In June 2005 a talk-show of Vladimir Pozner „Time to Live!” on the issue of HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia was held in two pilot cities of the project. In Ulan-Ude the talk-show was held on the 3 June, and in Ulyanovsk – on the 24 June 2005. High regional officials, representatives of civil society, specialists of education and health sector, including the ones of the Oblast AIDS Centres, members of „Young-to-Young” volunteer movement, local mass media as well as those who are directly related to the problem – people living with AIDS – participated in the talk-show. The European Union’s project „HIV/AIDS Prevention and Combating, Phase I, Russia” was one of organizers of the event.

The purpose of TV marathon and talk-show was to attract attention of people to the problem of spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia. According to official statistics there are more than 311 thousand people living in Russia today, while the international and Russian experts say the real number of those living with AIDS can be around 860 thousand people. Young people are mainly affected by the epidemic. More than 80 % of people living with AIDS are the young people in the range of 15-24 years old, and the main way of transmission is a sexual contact. Specialists who took part in the talk-show presented the real facts about development of the epidemic in the regions and told about the steps that any of us can take to protect ourselves and those who are close to us from disaster.

A special attention was paid to the specific problems of Ulyanovsk and Ulan-Ude. These two cities took over the TV marathon not by chance. Both Ulyanovsk and Ulan-Ude are among the Russian cities where the problem of HIV epidemic spread is the most urgent one. According to statistics of Oblast AIDS Centre there were 6.682 people registered as HIV – positive in Ulyanovsk Oblast as of 1 June 2005, while in Buryatia the figure was 2.225 of HIV – positive, including 20 people living with AIDS. The sexual way of virus transmission is growing.

Despite rather aggressive attitude of opponents of information campaign aimed at HIV prevention in Buryatia, majority of the audience has agreed with opinion of Vladimir Pozner, who said that for the most effective solution of the problem we need to combine efforts of authorities, volunteers, church, and parents of the diseased people.

According to Acting Chief Doctor of the Oblast AIDS Centre in Ulyanovsk Liliya Ibragimova the event managed to involve in discussion all the parties interested in solution of the problem: legislative and executive authorities, specialists of education and health sector, volunteers working with the youth, journalists. It’s very important that the people living with AIDS took an active part in talk-show and what is more, they persuaded the fellow victims not to stay in background and not to be scared of publicity. „We have the money available for the treatment of HIV+, – says Liliya Ibragimova, – but it’s very difficult to persuade the diseased people to come to the AIDS Centre. We understand it very well. Unfortunately we haven’t cultivated tolerance to the people sick with the similar disease in our society yet. According to the item of the Federal Law № 122 related to medical provision of the privileged part of population, HIV+ should address to the AIDS Centre to get the proof of their disablement. After that they will be provided with the therapeutic treatment. It’s very gratifying to see that the talk-show helped people to overcome their fears and to address to us for the help.

Besides, the Minister of Health and Social Security and the Deputy Chairman of Ulyanovsk Oblast Igor Tikhonov, who took part in the talk-show, approved the use of social advertisement in oblast. He also promised to put the issue of HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region as point # 1 on agenda of the Security Councill meeting under the Governor of Ulyanovsk Oblast on 15 July 2005.

TV marathon „Time to Live!” took off in Sankt – Petersburg on 15 May 2005 and will be finished in December 2005. Krasnoyarks, Nizhny Novgorod, Tver’, Volgograd, Kazan’, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Barnaul will take part in the event before the end of the year.

The event was initiated by the prominent non-commercial and international organisations: UNAIDS, UNDP, „Centre for Social Development and Information” Foundation (PSI), Internews, „Community of People Living with HIV/AIDS”, „AIDS Foundation East – West” (AFEW), „Transatlantic Partnership against AIDS” (TPAA), „Focus Media” Foundation, Forum of NGOs, working in the sector of HIV/AIDS problems.

In Ulyanovsk the talk-show was organized and conducted by Television Company „Sixth Channel” with support of Internews. In Ulan-Ude the talk show was broadcasted by Buryat State Television and Radio Company on the „Russia” central channel.

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