Feature story

#InSpiteOf campaign reached more than a million people

29 January 2020

#InSpiteOf, a social media campaign featuring the right of women living with HIV in eastern Europe and central Asia to live with dignity and respect, has reached more than a million people.

Each of the #InSpiteOf Instagram stories showed a different aspect of women living with HIV and challenged the stereotypes and myths that surround the virus. The stories focused on testing and treatment, motherhood and the adoption of children by people living with HIV, disclosing one’s HIV status to partners and children, enjoying the right to work, living with HIV in custody, being a migrant living with HIV, violence and drug abuse, and contributing to HIV education and prevention.

A common feature of all the women featured in the campaign is that they were supported at a critical time in their lives by their loved ones, women’s organizations or communities and are now not only living with HIV and challenging society’s stereotypes, but helping others.

“Mutual support, women’s leadership in preventing violence, protecting rights and dignity, and combating stigma and discrimination have always been and remain one of the most important aspects in countering the HIV epidemic,” said Svetlana Moroz, Chair of the Eurasian Women's Network on AIDS.

On the eve of World AIDS Day 2019, Odnoklassniki, one of the Russian Federation’s most popular social networks, hosted a live event in support of the #InSpiteOf campaign. Celebrities such as the singer Zara, Irina Starshenbaum, Lyubov Aksyonova and others voiced their support for the campaign and read poems, accompanied by music played by Anton Sevidov of the band Tesla Boy. Vera Brezhneva, the UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, also attended the event, at which she stressed the importance of speaking honestly and openly about HIV and ensuring that people get the treatment and support they need.

“Be sure to listen and share #InSpiteOf stories! They are not only about one’s right to live with dignity, to love and to be happy. They are also about these women’s amazing power, spirit and will to live despite all odds. Each one of us has her own #InSpiteOf challenge, so let us support those who made it and let us inspire those who still doubt their power,” said Ms Brezhneva.

“Gender norms and taboos regarding sexual and reproductive life, as well as gender-based violence, increase women’s risk of HIV infection. Then, after being diagnosed with HIV, women face stigma and discrimination, hide their status and do not seek help. This vicious circle can only be broken with the women themselves, their mutual support and leadership, as well as a change in society’s attitude to HIV and the people it affects,” said Elena Kiryushina, Gender Focal Point at the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 

The campaign was developed by the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Сentral Asia jointly with the Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS.