HIV is a problem concerning everybody, and should be dealt with together

HIV is a problem concerning everybody, and should be dealt with together

— Tetyana Kharchenko

HIV is a problem concerning everybody, and should be dealt with together

How did you start working in the field of HIV \ AIDS, because it is a quite foldable theme that the Ukrainian society perceives ambiguously?

Beginning of 1990s, Germany faced one of the most difficult HIV epidemics in Europe. The fear and false stereotypes about HIV prevail in every society, where AIDS is perceived as an issue of some marginalized, risky groups, and not the society in general. In combating HIV and AIDS, Germany has walked a long way from concentrating on vulnerable populations to work with society in general. And that was the most important lesson learnt – only the All-country Information Campaign “Gib AIDS Keine Chance!” proved to be really successful. We are working in Ukraine from 2008 concentrating on primary prevention on general public. From 2009 the German government via Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and HIV prevention project in Ukraine together with Governmental partners implementing the All-Ukrainian Information Campaign “Don’t Give AIDS a Chance!”, which counts on the German experience.

In October, Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH signed the quadrilateral memorandum that provides HIV prevention among the general population. Does it mean that MSM ceased to be your target group?

The overall population in Ukraine includes the LGBTQ community. Therefor men who have sex with men are still in the focus. Furthermore, the project supports parents’ initiative Tergo.

Main focus of our work is primary prevention and general public. And this is very important - only together, under the state leadership, with the efforts of civil society and international organizations, jointly addressing the general population, that we can really influence the HIV epidemic. HIV is a problem concerning everybody, and should be dealt with together.
We are working with general public with aim to increase general level of tolerance toward any group that can be discriminated. And we help enhance human rights in Ukraine including the rights of LGBTQ community.

What goals does Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH set up in HIV prevention among MSM in 2016? (If you differentiate MSM as a group)?

The new wave of the Campaign that will be implemented is integrated, comprehensive, and will focus on 2 dimensions – promotion of both HIV testing and condom use. One is to promote responsible behavior, another – to popularize early diagnosis and caring about your health. Since HIV concerns all, we should take care about ourselves and those whom we love.

In Ukraine there is a problem of distrust to AIDS centers, the media constantly report problems with buying drugs – these things scare people. Does your memorandum or your program provide activity addressing these problems?

Distrust exists where there is lack of information and to address this challenge we work toward increasing the level of information including that on medical treatment, importance of timely testing and personal protection.

Modern medicines allow HIV-positive people to live happily and long, and they are afraid of the reaction of society, rather than the disease. How does Germany cope with the problem? Is it possible to apply this experience in Ukraine?

German experience showed that only by uniting efforts of many sectors – state, non-governmental, business companies, we can successfully combat the HIV epidemics and stigma connected to it.

You’ve been supporting Parents’ Initiative TERGO for a long time. What role does it play? How can you see your further cooperation with it?

We supported the founding the Tergo initiative in 2013 beginning with just a small number of mothers of LGBTQ children. And now we are supporting the registered Tergo organization which unites more than 50 not only mothers but also fathers, siblings, and friends of LGBTQ people.
This is the unique opportunity to increase the level of tolerance in the society. Our successful cooperation will continue.

In Ukraine, the initiative "Corporate Equality Index» (cei.org.ua) occurred, which was joined by your partner – the trade network Auchan. Is Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH going to pass the test and to demonstrate leadership in ensuring anti-discrimination in the workplace?

This is a wonderful initiative and we are ready to participate.

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