Photo exhibition captures Russia’s HIV epidemic

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Photo exhibition captures Russia’s HIV epidemic

24 September 2010

Two students look at an image part of the joint Reuters and UNAIDS exhibition Time to Act, held at Moscow State University 21 September 2010. The exhibition was launched to coincide with the MDG Summit held at the United Nations in New York, 20-22 September 2010. UNAIDS\Kolomiiets

A new exhibition featuring images representing Russia’s HIV epidemic opened on 21 September at Moscow State University. The international news agency Reuters and the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia partnered to display 35 of Reuters’ most compelling photographs.

Launched to coincide with the 20-22 September MDG Summit in New York, Time To Act gives a strong visual representation of the country’s epidemic. Its organizers hope the exhibition will provide visitors with an overview of the many sensitive issues facing Russia as it responds to its growing HIV epidemic.

Taken by seven photographers over the past 12 years, the photographs capture the scale and scope of the epidemic in Russia, from civil society protests and children orphaned by AIDS to the struggles encountered by key populations at higher risk.

Many of the images on display are striking but they communicate the reality of the challenges Russia and the Eastern European and Central Asia face in responding to HIV,” said Dr Denis Broun, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for the region. Information on HIV and how it is prevented should be provided coherently by health facilities, the media, schools and universities—this exhibition is a good example of making HIV awareness persuasive and informative.

The photographs are paired with statistics that provide information on the epidemic and its trends in the region. According to UNAIDS, an estimated 110 000 people were newly infected with HIV in the region in 2008, bringing the number of people living with HIV to 1.5 million.

“Young people and other visitors can’t stay indifferent after seeing the exhibition,” said Elena Vartanova, the Dean of Moscow State University’s Journalism Department, the host of the exhibition. “The images urge us to think and to take actions towards stopping the spread of the HIV epidemic.”

Time to Act runs until 29 October 2010.