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When Kamilla Rakhimova first found out she was HIV-positive back in 2013, she felt as though her world was coming crashing down around her.
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In a statement for World AIDS Day, 1 December, UN Women highlights the need to accelerate action towards gender equality, ending violence, supporting leadership and the full enjoyment of their human rights for all young women and girls, especially those affected by both coronavirus and HIV
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Azimabonu Jumabekova is a 19-year-old peer educator and HIV activist from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Azimabonu was the first teenager in Uzbekistan and the Central Asia region to openly disclose her HIV status.
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According to UN Women’s new Gender Rapid Assessment of COVID-19’s impact in Kyrgyzstan, 32% of respondents have heard of an increase in domestic violence or experienced it themselves. Service-providers, such as civil society organizations and crisis centres, are also experiencing hard times as helpline workloads are growing.
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According to a recent rapid gender assessment conducted by UN Women with the support of the Swiss Government, European Union and the United Nations joint Spotlight Initiative and UNFPA, women, specifically those from the most vulnerable situations, are impacted disproportionately by the pandemic.
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As the devasting COVID-19 crisis unfolds worldwide, in Tajikistan peer counsellors are turning to technology to reach out to women living with HIV, who face particular risks and vulnerabilities.
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Dilyora Mammadova, a woman living with HIV from Tajikistan, is working with affected women and high-risk groups, helping identify new cases of local HIV infection, supporting women with the same diagnosis, and bringing them medicine. Through a joint UN Women- UNAIDS project for women living with HIV in 2019, her small sewing workshop and her business proposal received funding. Nowadays, due to the high demand for COVID-19 protection masks, Mammadova is supplying masks.
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The Odnoklassniki social network, known as OK, hosted a broadcast for experts and others to discuss how to survive lockdown and avoid family conflict and gender-based violence.
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More than 120 participants from Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia gathered in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, to discuss the key role of women and young people in finding effective solutions to HIV-related issues and the importance of strengthening the capacities of youth and women’s networks in decision-making and active response to the HIV epidemic.
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Yana Panfilova, 22, is a Ukrainian HIV positive activist and co-founder as well as chairwoman of Teenergizer, an organization that supports and advocates for the rights of HIV positive youth in Europe and Central Asia (Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia). She was also nominated as a heroine for UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign in Ukraine.  
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Natalia Nalimova, from Tiraspol in eastern Moldova, works for the NGO, Healthy Future, which assists HIV-positive persons. Ms. Nalimova is also a “Positive Champion” who has publicly told her personal story as part of the “Positive Deviance” project, supported by the Initiativa Positiva NGO, UN Women Moldova and the Government of Denmark. The initiative helps women to overcome violence and advance the rights of women and men in Moldova. She shares her perspectives on Beijing +25.
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LBTIQ women gathered in Kyiv on 12 September during the XII National LGBTIQ Conference to share their diverse experiences as women veterans, internally displaced people, women with disabilities, trans women, women living with HIV and human rights activists. The meeting aimed to put a limelight on the discrimination that LBTIQ women face and address their concerns and needs.
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At a UN Women organised event, teams from diverse work and life backgrounds generate projects to improve the lives of women living with HIV.
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Every four minutes, three young women become infected with HIV (UNAIDS Right to Health report, 2017). They are clearly not enjoying their right to health, nor will they, until we are able to reverse the inequalities and discrimination that fuel HIV spread. Those whose health and future are currently least prioritized must become our focus, if we are to achieve the changes we seek.
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In Ukraine, 35 per cent of women living with HIV have experienced violence since the age of 15. Many women cannot definitively say that they have experienced violence, because they have suffered and witnessed gender-based violence through generations and it has been normalized. For women living with HIV, lack of awareness, shelters and support services pose additional challenges. Peer-support groups and the National Women’s Forum on HIV, supported by UN Women is bringing awareness, action and new beginnings for HIV positive women survivors of violence.
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The on-going conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine is not only destroying peace but is also tearing apart long-established links of specialised agencies, service providers, the civil society organizations working to support women living with HIV.
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Originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Luiza Karimova left her son with her family and travelled to Osh, Kyrgyzstan to find work. In Kyrgyzstan, she was sold into sex slavery and trafficked into Dubai. After 18 months, she was arrested and sent to jail. Today, Karimova works with Podruga, an organization based in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, which is supported by UN Women. Podruga works to end violence against women and assists women subjected to sex and drug trafficking.
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On World AIDS Day, we highlight the story of Natalia Minayeva from Kazakhstan, who was imprisoned in the so-called “AIDS barracks” and now works to protect the rights of HIV-positive women.
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A former drug user once jailed for being HIV-positive, Natalia Minayeva now helps other women on behalf of the Eurasian Network of Women Living with HIV.
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On December 1, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Georgian Youth Development and Education Association (GYDEA), in partnership with the Georgian University (GU) marked World AIDS Day.