AIDS Day in Ukraine: Online Test, Quest for Adolescents

Author: Yana Kazmirenko, Ukraine

On December 1, an online HIV test was presented in Kyiv

On December 1, a wide range of activities marked the World AIDS in Ukraine. On this day, the first in Ukraine online test for HIV was presented in Kyiv. It is available at HIVtest.com.ua or via a mobile application ‘HIV test.’

“The test makes an audit of your health, rapidly assessing the risk of infection, and offers information about the nearest testing sites,” said Dmitry Sherembey, the Chairman of the Coordination Council of the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH.

Four weeks before the campaign, organizers placed billboards with the intriguing social advertising – a dangerous blade hidden in a juicy burger ­– in the streets of Kyiv. Dmitry Sherembey reveals the intrigue: for many people HIV is invisible, with 130 thousand out of 250 thousand people living with HIV in Ukraine not aware of their diagnosis.

The test contains about two dozen of questions – their number depends on the respondent’s lifestyle. For example, the question “Do you use condoms when having sex or not?” is relevant in Ukraine, where 51% of people living with HIV get infected through the sexual route of transmission. After a person answers all the questions, the test will show the probability of HIV infection and will show the information about the nearest clinic or confidential counseling room to get tested. The online test has been developed for two months and, according to Dmitry Sherembey, it shows the result that person is getting after the testing in 40% of cases.

Testing should become a routine procedure

Dmitry Sherembey shows the online test on his phone

According to Pavel Skala, Director of the Policy and Partnership at the Alliance for Public Health, the annual campaigns dedicated to the World AIDS Day should be changing and moving forward. On one hand, public awareness on HIV is growing, but on the other hand – people are losing interest in the repeating topics.

Testing should become a routine procedure for every Ukrainian, emphasizes Roman Ilyk, the Deputy Minister of Health. He says that over 50% of cases are diagnosed at the third and fourth clinical stages of HIV infection, when the person’s health is poor. 80% of people who die are 25-49 years old. The Ministry of Health called on Ukrainians to get tested for HIV and underlined that early detection of the disease allows to timely access treatment.

Interactive activities for teenagers

Every year, civil society organizations conduct campaigns for teenagers dedicated to the World AIDS Day. Alexander Mogilka, the coordinator of the social support project for adolescents at the Kharkiv Day Care Center for Children and Youth “Compass” thinks that the success of Ukraine in curbing the HIV epidemic largely depends on the progress in working with this target group. This year, “Compass” organized a quest called “The Safety Route” in Chervonohrad, Kharkiv region.

Teenagers from Chervonohrad walked the Safety Route

“The format of this game was developed by the German agency GIZ. The teams are to go through several checkpoints: contraception, routes of HIV transmission, environment assessment. When you answer a question, you may go to the next point,” tells Alexander.

He claims that 70% of “troubled” teenagers have experience of using drugs. Usually, these are children from dysfunctional families.

“Before, teenagers could access drugs through dens, but now they can just use internet and stashes hidden in agreed venues. There is a sad contrast: the drug business is developing and taking new forms and the prevention is lagging behind,” sums up Alexander.

He underlines that to develop new formats of working with young people – combining quests, flash mobs, and social campaigns – is a new challenge for civil society organizations.

The Train is off but HIV Stays

Author: Anastasia Petrova, Russia

Testing in Kurgan

From 8 July to 20 October 2017, a train carriage went throughout the territory of Russia offering HIV testing services to everyone interested. The campaign was aimed at raising the awareness and increasing the coverage with testing services among the general public.

The strategic train

The train offering HIV testing is a project of the Russian Ministry of Health in cooperation with the Russian Railways. The campaign was initiated within the State Strategy to Combat the Spread of HIV in Russia through 2020. Long-distance passenger trains were equipped with an additional carriage offering free and confidential testing. Project workers conducted pre- and post-test counseling and informed people about HIV and the ways of its transmission. The route lied from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg and included the regions most affected with HIV. Apart from offering HIV testing on the way, mobile laboratories were also functioning on the railway stations. The campaign was aimed at the first component of the global 90/90/90 strategy, which stipulates that 90% of people living with HIV should be aware of their status.

The silent epidemic

The carriage where the testing was conducted

The testing campaign covered 24 regions, with the following cities leading in terms of people tested: Chelyabinsk (2,039 people), Nizhnevartovsk (1,645 people), Irkutsk (1,446 people), Kurgan (1,290 people), and Samara (1,227 people). Moscow was the city with the lowest coverage – only 290 people got tested there. According to the Ministry of Health, within the campaign 25 thousand people were able to get tested and receive professional counseling in the carriage and in railway stations.

“The fact that those 24 regions were covered is important. Here in Russia, 10 out of 85 regions have 50% of new HIV cases, and as for the 24 regions covered, they have over 70% of such cases. That is why I think that this campaign has a concrete result as it is focused on the most affected regions,” the chief independent expert in HIV diagnostics and treatment at the Russian Ministry of Health, Yevgeny Voronin is saying.

Awareness-raising materials in the format of railway tickets

It is interesting that no official statistics was announced on the total number of HIV cases detected. However, according to the Minister of Health, Veronika Skvortsova, as of the date when the train was passing Moscow the number of HIV positive cases detected was 248. Thus, the total number of such cases is more than 250 or 1% of the people tested. Considering the fact that testing was conducted in the general population, this number shows the severe epidemiological situation in the country and proves the tendency of HIV epidemic going beyond the key populations.

The train is off

Such campaign is an unprecedented intervention aimed at raising the awareness of people in the area of HIV/AIDS. Apart from testing passengers, the campaign was an important newsmaker. Reports in federal and regional mass media allowed millions of people in Russia to learn about the importance of this problem and about the necessity of regular testing. A positive outcome is that after the train left mobile sites to continue testing remained at some railway stations.

Closing ceremony in St. Petersburg

Alongside with that, if the data about one percent of the HIV cases detected in the general population is confirmed, it will mean that the situation has got out of control. In this case, the measures taken by the Ministry of Health are to be scaled up a hundred times and are to be aimed not only at awareness raising and detection of new cases but also at treatment. Testing as it is is not a measure of response to the epidemic. Every patient should receive therapy in order to achieve minimal viral load not to transmit the virus to other people. However, in Russia less than a half of people living with HIV get the necessary medications.

 

In Kazakhstan Students Debated on HIV

Author: Marina Maksimova, Kazakhstan

Opening ceremony of the first international debate tournament in Almaty “SpeakUp: AIDS”

Over 400 students from universities of the CIS countries took part in the first international debate tournament on HIV “SpeakUp: AIDS” in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“Almaty is the city of students and active young people, who are interested in gaining knowledge, in particular in the area of healthy lifestyle and HIV prevention. Out of 5 000 people living with HIV in Almaty one-third is young people. Our city has a tradition to conduct spectacular campaigns dedicated to the World AIDS Day. This year, it was the first time we held debates on this topic among young people,” said Murat Daribayev, deputy akim (akim  is the head of a local government in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – note of editor) of Almaty.

Among the debate participants, there was the best 2017 speaker in the world representing the international debate movement, the main judge Raffy Marshall (Oxford), students from the major higher educational institutions of the country as well as from the UK, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Sweden. The international panel selected 120 teams to take part in debates on this critical social issue. The tournament was held in line with the British parliament model.

The right to argue

Aleksandr Semenov, a student of the law department at the Kazakh National University is not a newbie in the debate movement. For the seventh year in a row, he wins his right to take part in the debates. He got through to the final round ten times, won five tournaments and even trained other debaters.

“The debates are a separate culture. It is sort of a recharger for your brain to always keep you thinking and analyzing to be able to assess a problem from various points of view. Additionally, you have to do it as fast as possible. The topics are always different: politics, culture, religion, sports… It was the first time when we had our debates on HIV. Therefore, the first conclusion is that we cannot keep silent, we should talk about it and ruin the stereotypes. Young people may be the opinion leaders,” says Aleksandr.

There are two people on his team: he and Altynay Dzhumasheva, a student of the American University of Central Asia from Kyrgyzstan. For debaters, it is not important which country or university the team members represent, the main thing is the efficiency of their joint efforts, mutual support, ability to swiftly catch the idea voiced by the partner and develop it in an emotional and convincing manner.

Stronger arguments

At the tournament, the debaters could use any of the three languages: English, Kazakh or Russian. The organizers selected several key topics. They included digitalization of the health care, drug use problems, sexual education, HIV and children, stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV. The participants were to be competent in all the topics.

“One of the rounds addressed the topic of drug addiction. What should change in the countries and in minds to give information about drugs and for drug users to have a choice of treatment and rehabilitation options? Our “opposition” team had to resist a storm of arguments from the “government.” Finally, the victory was ours! Our arguments on the need to adopt an efficient state drug policy and open state rehabilitation centres appeared to be stronger,” tells Altynay Dzhumasheva.

Counting on the young people

Debates among young people in Kazakhstan are a new instrument in response to AIDS. Organizers of the debates included the local Almaty administration, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republican AIDS Center, the Health Department of Almaty, UNAIDS, and UNICEF.

Search for the new formats of HIV prevention among young people is an important topic to be discussed at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam.

“Kazakhstan has already started its preparations to declare the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. We hope that information about HIV will continue to be accessible and accurate. The progress we have achieved has been to a great extent made possible thanks to people not being silent and youth being actively engaged,” HIV/AIDS Specialist from UNICEF Ruslan Malyuta is saying.

The winner of the English league of the first international debate tournament on HIV was a team from the People’s Friendship University of Russia. The best team in the Kazakh league was from the Taraz State University (Kazakhstan), and in the Russian league – from the Eurasian National University (Astana).

Five People Disclosed their HIV Status to Mark the World AIDS Day in Kyrgyzstan

Author: Olga Ochneva, Kyrgyzstan

The Shukurov family tells about their HIV status during the campaign in the Kara-Balta school

Kyrgyzstan marked the World AIDS Day on December 1 under the Slogan “My Health, My Right.” Competitions, quizzes, a flash mob, debates, a race, a fashion show, and meetings with journalists were dedicated to the World AIDS Day. The most surprising thing during these events was the number of people who publicly disclosed their HIV status.

“Live” stories

Every year on the first winter day mass media publish a year’s supply of reports on the situation with HIV and its prevention. This time, the main message in this load of media reports was the topic of fighting stigma against people living with HIV (PLWH). This message was delivered by people who decided to publicly disclose their HIV status and tell their stories. The start to this spontaneous campaign for the freedom from fears, myths and prejudices was given by Baktygul Shukurova in September this year at the National HIV Conference. Baktygul says that she decided to make this step for all PLWH, to refute myths and give people an opportunity to reflect on the fact that everyone has a right to life and health. Back then, Yevgeniy Yuldashev also made a decision to have an open conversation with journalists.

Charitable race to help children living with HIV was supported by people of different ages and occupations

Following the example of his wife Baktygul, Umid Shukurov also disclosed his HIV status during the December 1 campaign in his home town of Kara-Balta. The spouses opened the truth, which they had been hiding for seven years, and that, as they say, helped them to feel free. On November 29, two more women disclosed their status.

Race to support people living with HIV

A charitable race “My Health, My Right” was organized in one of the Bishkek parks with the USAID support. Despite the cold Saturday morning, over two hundred people took part in the three- and six-kilometre races. Participants had a chance to donate some money to buy New Year presents for children living with HIV. The task of this race was to raise the awareness on the need to be responsible about one’s health and to prevent the spread of HIV.

HIV Quiz Night

Participants of the Quiz Night had only one minute to think over the questions, but many of them replied ahead of time

UNAIDS organized a Quiz Night dedicated to the topic “Right to Health” in the context of HIV. The battle for the title of the smartest brought together 18 teams, each of them making a money contribution. Among the participants, there were teams of journalists, health professionals, students, staff members of AIDS organizations and fans of the Quiz Night game. The participants had to answer 20 questions. Questions about HIV related to the areas of medicine, cinema, history, and music. The best performing team got the game bank and the viewers learned many unexpected facts about HIV and health.

Prevention month

The Republican AIDS Centre dedicated its activities within the month to mark the World AIDS Day to prevention and fighting stigma against PLWH. There was a contest for the best materials on HIV among college and high school students and journalists in three nominations: video, poster, and article. Twenty teams took part in the debate tournament.

Female penal colony against HIV and violence

Women from the penal colony No. 2 demonstrate creativity while talking about important issues

This day was also marked in the penal institutions. AIDS Foundation East-West in the Kyrgyz Republic organized a creative contest in the female penal colony No. 2. Each team presented a leaflet, a dance, a song and two theatre performances on two cross-cutting topics – how to prevent HIV and how to protect yourself from violence. Women spent a month on working on the scenarios and creating the costumes and, as a result, the event was very informative and impressive.

 

 

“I have HIV and it is not a verdict”

Amina from Tajikistan lives with HIV for nine years

Author: Nargis Hamrabaeva, Tajikistan

In her memories, her life is divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’ she learned she had HIV. As strange as it may seem, with the therapy ‘after’ is not a verdict, not a tragedy, not the end…

We are meeting 29-year-old Amina (the name has been changed) in one of the coffee houses in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. She came to our meeting after work, short of breath, as she was afraid to be late. Good looking, with a glow of health on her cheeks, a strand of hair appearing from under her neatly tied headscarf, and snow-white teeth. One could say that she was to the full of her health.

Sipping her coffee, she tells her story. Amina has been living with HIV for nine years and she is not at all ashamed of her status. She is convinced that a person with such diagnosis may live the same life as with any other chronic disease. The main thing is to take antiretroviral (ART) therapy on time and attend medical check-ups.

Fire, hospital, blood transfusions…

In 2007, Amina married her distant family member. In fact, as it often happens in Tajik families, her parents arranged their marriage.

“It happened that my two sisters married the relatives of my father and to keep some kind of “balance,” my marriage was arranged with my mother’s family relative. I struggled. We lived in the house of my husband’s parents. My sisters-in-law, who moved back to their parents’ house after the divorce, also lived with us. I could only dream of a quiet life,” tells Amina.

Sometimes, the young woman became an object of her sisters-in-law’s vengeance after their quarrels with her husband. Once, after another big quarrel, Amina made a bonfire in the yard and was cooking some food in a big pot. She already had a one-year-old and was pregnant with her second baby. The girl was throwing more brushwood into the fire to make it stronger when suddenly someone approached her from behind and pushed her right into the flame…

Amina woke up in a hospital ward several days after. She was in awful pain – she had 40% of her skin burnt. Ahead, she had two months of hospital stay, treatment, loss of her baby, interrogations of police officers and many blood transfusions. It turned out that it was one of her sisters-in-law who pushed her into the fire.

After several months, the wounds of her body and soul were healed and Amina got pregnant again. As all pregnant women, she did all the required tests, including an HIV test. It came back positive. She was worried, desperate, scared. She did not know what to do. Professional psychologists of the AIDS center talked to her and explained that it was not the end, that she would need to take her therapy and would be able to live a normal life with certain conditions.

“You have HIV and you will die in half a year”

However, the conversation with her husband was hard.

“He also got tested and his result was negative. He blamed it all on me; said that if I have HIV, I would die in half a year. He said that he wanted neither me nor our child. Soon I gave birth to our second son, but it did not save our marriage. We broke up. Both my boys are HIV-negative,” adds Amina.

She thinks that she got infected during one of the blood transfusions in the hospital.

“After the diagnosis, you can and should go on living your life,” the woman is saying now. Earlier, she was alone and hopeless. Her children were her only comfort. For them, she was fighting for her life. “I have been taking ART for five years. It includes several drugs, each of which influences a certain stage in the HIV replication cycle. In other words, when a person takes the therapy, the virus no longer replicates in the cells of his immune system.”

Building a house and finding a true love

A local organisation working with HIV-positive women helped Amina to become stronger and believe in herself. Now the young woman works as an outreach worker there, helping other women who are diagnosed with HIV to overcome their fears and depression. Her two wonderful boys are growing up. One of them goes to the third grade, and the second one has started his first year in school.

“To my ex-husband’s surprise, I am still alive, though nine years have already passed,” she says with a smile on her face. “Money that I make here is enough for us, but I am afraid to think about what can happen if the project is closed. Now there is a crisis everywhere. I could go to Russia to earn some money, but there I would have to make a mandatory HIV test to get a job and then I might face deportation.”

“What is your dream?”, I am asking her.

“Now I am on a waiting list to get a land plot and I would like to build a house for my children,” says Amina. Currently, she lives with her mother and her brother’s family. “They are all well aware of HIV, they know the routes of transmission, so they are not afraid to give me a hug or to eat from one bowl with me, and my brother’s wife sometimes leaves her children for me to look after.”

Besides, Amina is dreaming about meeting her true love and creating a family. This strong and self-confident young woman may be a role model for many people living with HIV.

AIDS 2018: Abstract Submission Guidelines

Scientific tracks

The 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) welcomes submission of abstracts for original contribution to the field in the following scientific tracks:

  • Track A: Basic and translational research
  • Track B: Clinical research
  • Track C: Epidemiology and prevention research
  • Track D: Social and political research, law, policy and human rights
  • Track E: Implementation research, economics, systems and synergies with other health and development sectors

Each scientific track is divided into a number of track categories. All abstract authors are asked to choose one scientific track and one track category during the submission process.

By submitting an abstract to the conference, you agree to adhere to the conference embargo policy. The policy specifies that while authors may publish the fact that their abstract has been selected for inclusion in the conference programme, data from the abstract may NOT be shared in any form (print, broadcast, or online publication, media release or conference presentation) prior to its official presentation at AIDS 2018.

Call for abstracts

We encourage work that introduces new ideas, concepts, research and deepens understanding in the field, as well as analyses of both successes and failures. Please read the following guidelines carefully before submitting your abstract:

  • Abstracts can only be submitted online via the conference profile on our website aids2018.org; submissions by fax, post or email will not be considered.
  • All abstracts must be written in English.
  • It is the author’s responsibility to submit a correct abstract. Any errors in spelling, grammar or scientific fact in the abstract text will be reproduced as typed by the author. Abstract titles will be subject to a spell check if the abstract is selected for presentation.

Late breaker abstracts

A small number of late breaker abstracts will be accepted for oral or poster presentation at the conference. Late breaker submissions must be data of unquestioned significance that meet a high threshold of scientific merit.

During submission, authors will have to justify why their abstract should be considered as a late breaker. The same submission rules apply for the late breaker abstracts as for the regular abstracts, but each presenting author may only present one late breaker abstract at the conference. The late breaker abstract submission will be open from 19 April to 10 May 2018.

The percentage of abstracts selected for late breakers will depend on the number of submissions, but selection will be far more rigorous than for regular abstracts.

Questions

  • For technical questions regarding the abstract submission system, please contact the abstract support team at abstracts@aids2018.org.
  • Questions regarding the content of the abstract should be addressed to the Abstract Mentor Programme at mentor@aids2018.org.

Policies for abstract submission

Copyright policy

Abstracts should not include libelous or defamatory content. Material presented in abstracts should not violate any copyright laws. If figures/graphics/images have been taken from sources not copyrighted by the author, it is the author’s sole responsibility to secure the rights from the copyright holder in writing to reproduce those figures/graphics/images for both worldwide print and web publication. All reproduction costs charged by the copyright holder must be borne by the author.

Resubmission policy

An abstract which has been previously published or presented at a national, regional or international meeting can only be submitted provided that there are new methods, findings, updated information or other valid reasons for submitting.

The 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2015), at the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo ©Steve Forrest/Workers’ Photos/IAS

If preliminary or partial data have been published or presented previously, the submitting author will be required to provide details of the publication or presentation, along with a justification of why the abstract merits consideration for AIDS 2018. This information will be considered by the Scientific Programme Committee when making final decisions.

If the author neglects to provide these required details and justification, or if evidence of previous publication or presentation is found, the abstract will be rejected.

Plagiarism

The conference organizers regard plagiarism as serious professional misconduct. All abstracts are screened for plagiarism and when identified, the abstract and any other abstracts submitted by the same author are rejected. In addition, the submitting author’s profile and scholarship application, in the case one has been submitted, will also be canceled.

Co-submission

AIDS 2018 may negotiate co-submission of abstracts with affiliated events, pre-conferences and/or external events. Visit www.aids2018.org for updated information.

Ethical Research Declaration

The conference supports only research that has been conducted according to the protocol approved by the institutional or local committee on ethics in human investigation. Where no such committee exists, the research should have been conducted in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki of World Medical Association. The AIDS 2018 Scientific Programme Committee may enquire further into ethical aspects when evaluating the abstracts.

Conference embargo policy

As is the case with most scientific/medical conferences, abstracts from AIDS 2018 are released to delegates and media under a strict embargo policy. A detailed breakdown of the embargo policies for different types of abstracts is available here. All conference delegates, presenters and media agree to respect this policy.

Abstract submission process

Conference profile

Before submitting an abstract, authors must create a conference profile. More than one abstract can be submitted through the conference profile. After an abstract has been created, modifications can be made until the submission deadline. The final deadline to submit the abstract is 5 February 2018, 23:59 Central European Time.

Choosing a track category

The track category is the general heading under which the abstract will be reviewed and later published in the conference printed matters if accepted. The track category which best describes the subject of the abstract should be chosen. During the submission process, you will be asked to select one track category for your abstract.

Abstract structure

The conference offers two options for abstract submission:

Option 1

Suited for research conducted in all disciplines. Abstracts submitted under the first option should contain concise statements of:

  • Background: indicate the purpose and objective of the research, the hypothesis that was tested or a description of the problem being analysed or evaluated.
  • Methods: describe the study period/setting/location, study design, study population, data collection and methods of analysis used.
  • Results: present as clearly and in as much detail as possible the findings/outcomes of the study. Please summarize any specific results.
  • Conclusions: explain the significance of your findings/outcomes of the study for HIV prevention, treatment, care and/or support, and future implications of the results.

The following review criteria will be used in scoring abstracts submitted under option 1:

  • Is there a clear background and justified objective?
  • Is the methodology/study design appropriate for the objectives?
  • Are the results important and clearly presented?
  • Are the conclusions supported by the results?
  • Is the study original, and does it contribute to the field?

Option 2

Suited for lessons learned through programme, project or policy implementation or management. Abstracts submitted under the second option should contain concise statements of:

  • Background: summarize the purpose, scope and objectives, of the programme, project or policy;
  • Description: describe the programme, project or policy period/setting/location, the structure, key population (if applicable), activities and interventions undertaken in support of the programme, project or policy;
  • Lessons learned: present as clearly and in as much detail as possible the findings/outcomes of the programme, project or policy; include an analysis or evaluation of lessons learned and best practices. Please summarize any specific results that support your lessons learned and best practices;
  • Conclusions/Next steps: explain the significance of your findings/outcomes of the programme, project or policy for HIV prevention, treatment, care and/ r support, and future implications of the results.

The following review criteria will apply to abstracts submitted under option 2:

  • Is there a clear background and justified objective?
  • Is the programme, project or policy design and implementation appropriate for the objectives?
  • Are the lessons learned or best practices important, supported by the findings and clearly presented?
  • Are the conclusions/next steps supported by the results and are they feasible?
  • Is the work reported original, and does it contribute to the field?

Disaggregated sex and other demographic data in abstracts

Authors are encouraged to provide a breakdown of data by sex and other demographics such as age, geographic region, race/ethnicity, and/or other relevant demographic characteristics in submitted abstracts, when appropriate. Your abstract should include the number and percentage of men and women (and additional breakdown by gender and/or ethnicity if appropriate) that participated in your research or project, and results should be disaggregated by sex/gender and other relevant demographics. Analyses of any gender-based differences or any other differences between sub-populations should be provided in the Results or Lessons Learned sections, if relevant.

Font

A standard font, e.g. Arial, should be used when formatting the text. This helps to prevent special characters from getting lost when copying the text to the online abstract submission form. Ensure to check the final abstract with the system’s preview function before submission, and edit or replace as necessary.

Word limits

The abstract text body is limited to 350 words. Titles are limited to 30 words.

A maximum of one table and one graph/image can be included: a graph/image (in JPG, GIF or PNG with ideally 600 dpi) can be included. These will not count toward the word limit, nor will the information about authors, institutions and study groups.

Common reasons for abstract rejection:

  • Abstract poorly written.
  • Not enough new information.
  • Clear objective and/or hypothesis missing.
  • Linkage between different parts of the abstract not comprehensible.
  • Duplicate or overlap with another abstract.
  • Study/project/programme/policy too preliminary or insufficient to draw conclusions.
  • Study/project/programme/policy lack of originality.

Reasons for abstract rejection – specific to Option 1:

  • Methods (either quantitative or qualitative) inadequate and/or insufficient to support conclusions;
  • Summary of essential results inadequate and/or missing.

Reasons for abstract rejection – specific to Option 2:

  • Description inadequate and/or insufficient to support conclusions;
  • Lessons learned inadequate and/or missing.

Recommendations

  • Abstracts should disclose primary findings and avoid, whenever possible, promissory statements such as “experiments are in progress” or “results/lessons learned will be discussed”;
  • If English is not your native language, we recommend that you have your abstract reviewed by a native speaker before submission;
  • The conference offers an Abstract Mentor Programme for less experienced submitters. Please see further information below.

Submission confirmation

After submission of the abstract, a confirmation email will be sent to the abstract submitter. In order to receive confirmation, please ensure that emails from abstracts@aids2018-abstracts.org are not marked as spam by your e-mail provider.

Support programmes

Abstract Mentor Programme

The goal of the AIDS 2018 Abstract Mentor Programme is to provide an opportunity for young and/or less experienced abstract submitters to have their draft abstracts mentored by more experienced authors before submitting their abstract to the conference.

Abstracts submitted by authors that have volunteered to be a mentor in the programme will not automatically be accepted. The same applies for abstracts submitted by authors that were mentored by the programme.

For more information please visit Abstract Mentor Programme webpage.

Scholarship application process

Abstract authors interested in applying for a scholarship must complete a full scholarship application, available through your Conference Profile from 1 December 2017 to 1 February 2018.

For more information please visit Scholarship Programme webpage.

Abstract review and selection process

Abstract review

All submitted abstracts will go through a blind peer-review process carried out by an international reviewing committee. Each abstract will be reviewed by at least three reviewers.

Abstract selection

The Scientific Programme Committee makes the final selection of abstracts to be included in the conference programme. Abstracts can be selected for oral presentation in oral abstract sessions or to be presented as a poster. A small number of highest-scoring posters are selected for presentation in oral poster discussion sessions; the majority of the posters will be displayed in the Poster Exhibition.

Notification of acceptance or rejection to the corresponding author

Notification of acceptance or rejection will be sent to the submitting (corresponding) author by mid-April. Please note that only the corresponding author will receive an email concerning the abstract and is responsible for informing all co-authors of the status of the abstract. Authors whose abstracts have been accepted will receive instructions for the presentation of their abstract.

Rule of two

Each presenting author may present a maximum of two abstracts at the conference. The number of submissions is, however, not limited. Should an author have more than two abstracts accepted for presentation, a co-author must be named as presenting author for one or more abstracts.

In addition, each presenting author may also present one late breaker abstract at the conference.

Publication of accepted abstracts

The submission of the abstracts constitutes the authors’ consent to publication. If the abstract is accepted, the authors agree that their abstracts are published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license. The license allows third parties to share the published work (copy, distribute, transmit) and to adapt it for any purposes, under the condition that AIDS 2018 and authors are given credit, and that in the event of reuse or distribution, the terms of this license are made clear. Authors retain the copyright of their abstracts, with first publication rights granted to the IAS.

Accepted abstracts may, therefore, be published on IAS websites and publications, such as the AIDS 2018 Online Conference Programme and other conference materials, the IAS abstract archive, the Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS), etc.

Source: AIDS 2018

Donbass: the HIV Epidemic Growing on Both Sides of the Border

Member of the Donbass battalion Aleksey with his wife. When he was taken captive, his wife secretly brought him medications. Photo: Mikhail Fridman

Author: Yana Kazmirenko, Ukraine

HIV is rapidly spreading in the east of Ukraine, which for over three years remains the area of military actions. For two years, pregnant women have not been tested for HIV, and medications could only be delivered illegally.

The armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine divided Donbass into two parts: areas controlled by the central Ukrainian government and the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). The latter are controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

This Russian-Ukrainian conflict demonstrated the differences in the approaches of the two countries to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. Thus, in Russia opioid substitution treatment (OST) for people who inject drugs is banned. After Ukraine no longer supplied OST drugs to Donetsk and Lugansk, relevant programmes were also terminated in the areas not controlled by the Ukrainian government. According to experts, the war brought the region back to the 90s in terms of the spread of HIV.

Only half of those in need take the therapy

Sergey Dmitriyev, member of the Coordination Council of the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV says that there are 16 thousand HIV-positive people living in the areas of Donetsk region not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Only half of them take the therapy. In the Lugansk region, the situation is similar: 2.7 thousand people living with HIV registered, 1.4 thousand – taking the therapy.

On the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government, 13.6 thousand people with HIV positive status are registered, and over seven thousand receive the therapy. It is not surprising that the level of HIV prevalence here is 676.9 per 100 thousand people, which is 2.2 times higher than the average indicator in Ukraine. The highest rates are recorded in Dobropole (1,459.6 per 100 thousand people) and Mariupol (1,154.5).

Apart from the official statistics, the number of undetected HIV cases is at least the same as the number of cases registered as the epidemic in Donbass has long gone beyond the vulnerable populations.

AIDS centres across the border

Natalia Bezeleva, Head of the NGO “Club Svitanok”

Natalia Bezeleva, Head of the NGO “Club Svitanok,” thinks that during the three years of armed conflict only services and deliveries of medications have been re-established in the region. Currently, in the Ukraine-controlled areas , here are 22 sites to prescribe antiretroviral therapy. She remembers the deficit of antiretroviral drugs as a bad dream – her organization had to smuggle the drugs for over a year. Since 2016, the Global Fund has also joined the delivery of supplies, providing the necessary drugs, while UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – has been bringing the supplies to the “LPR” and the “DPR”.

Ms. Bezeleva illustrates failure of the established HIV/AIDS diagnostics and treatment system with the following fact: in 2014, the Donetsk regional AIDS centre remained on the territory not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests have not been transported through the newly created border, so for two years, no HIV diagnostics was done for children. Another big challenge was the deficit of doctors – most health professionals left the area of the armed conflict.

According to Ms. Bezeleva, the situation improved in 2016, when the Donetsk regional AIDS centre was opened in Slavyansk. Today, thanks to the support of the Global Fund PCR tests of adult patients are taken to Kharkiv and children’s PCR tests are delivered to Kyiv. There are also first achievements in diagnostics: in 2016, over 113 thousand people or 5.8% of the total population of the region were tested for HIV, and in the nine months of this year 84 thousand people have already been tested.

The military: testing for the contracted soldiers

A social worker visits an HIV-positive TB patient in the TB treatment clinic in Donetsk. Photo: Mikhail Fridman

Even in the peacetime, the military face the risk of infections, in particular HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis, which is 2-5 times higher than in the general population. At war, this risk grows 50-fold.

In the area of armed conflict, there are 60 thousand of Ukrainian soldiers. According to the result of the research study conducted by the Alliance for Public Health, about 4% of the military enter the conflict area with an HIV positive status, while the percentage of HIV-positive soldiers leaving the area is doubled and reaches 8-8.5%.

Activists of civil society organizations say that the military should be covered with prevention programmes and convinced that they need to be tested. Another important issue is equipping the military first aid kits with condoms.

The Digital Consultation from the Amsterdam Youth Force

Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV/AIDS Lambert Grijns

We are glad to announce the digital consultation the Amsterdam Youth Force (AYF) is organising in the run up to 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018.) AIDS 2018 will be an important event in the road to fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Therefore, it is crucial that young people’s perspectives are heard in the lead up to the conference, which is why we a consultation to help produce position papers reflecting young people’s voices is being launched.

The consultation will build on the work the #UPROOT agenda documented by PACT, and Amsterdam Youth Force is currently investigating the best ways to do that. In the meantime, AYF is looking for volunteers to help with the project. They are specifically looking for:

  • Young people who speak both English and Russian, French, Arabic, Spanish or Chinese.
  • People who want to help manage and translate input in those languages and help write the papers.
  • People who are available for that from January until July 2018.

If you are interested in helping out, please let AYF know via advocacy.ayf@gmail.com. Then they will contact you to see how you can help.

Call for Application: AIDS 2018 Abstract Support

Amsterdam Youth Force, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and AFEW International invite applicants from Eastern Europe and Central Asia region (EECA) to submit drafts abstracts for XXII International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam (AIDS 2018) to board panel of experts for review. 

We would like to invite Eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) researchers, clinicians, scientists, community activists and young people to submit their abstracts to our EECA AIDS 2018 Abstract Support team. Boosting the representation of academics in this region is important as this is the only region in the world where the epidemic is still growing. To increase the chances to present their work at the conference for researchers, clinicians, community activists and young people from EECA who may have less experience in writing scientific abstracts in English, we will be facilitating scientific and English language assistance. We will link you to a researcher or a professional in your field which can provide you with scientific feedback on how to improve the quality of your abstract. To specifically support young researchers and community activists, we also offer a feedback session via Skype to discuss the suggested changes to your work.

If this sounds like something you could benefit from, please read further about the eligibility criteria and review process.

Eligibility criteria

You can submit your abstract to aids2018@AFEW.nl for a professional review if you are:

  • A (young) researcher, scientists, clinician, community activist or representative of community based organization or NGO; and
  • Planning to submit an abstract to 22nd International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam, 23-27 July 2018 (AIDS 2018); and
  • Working in one of the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan;

The review process

  • We will be accepting submissions from the 1st of December 2017 until the 10th of January 2018 in both English and Russian languages. The feedback to the submitted draft abstracts will be provided in two subsequent rounds. The first round panelists will provide in-depth feedback on the initial content, and the second round will allow for the final feedback on the adjusted version.

First round feedback will be sent out to applicants within 10 days after the submission. The timing for in-person communication shall it be needed, will be coordinated individually with each applicant.

  • Limited translation and editing services will occur between the 22 January and 2 February 2018.

For those who submit in Russian language, you will first receive feedback on the academic quality of your written piece. Following this, a limited number of abstracts will also be translated into English. This is based on the need, so please indicate your capacity for translation in the letter of motivation.

For the abstract submissions written in English, you will receive feedback on the scientific quality of work, and limited number of abstracts will get assistance with English editing. Again, please indicate your English skills and need for editing in the motivation letter.

  • Due to the limited capacity of the panelists, in total up to 110 abstracts will be able to receive feedback. Therefore, the rule “first come – first served” will apply. First 110 abstracts submitted from eligible applicants will be forwarded to a relevant panelist based on his/her expertise and academical background, for feedback and in some cases for personal communication.

Please send your abstract in Word format, include a brief letter of motivation, which scientific track you will be submitting to and details about yourself including your age if you would like to apply as a young researcher or community activist.

Below you will find links to materials on how to write conference abstracts, available in English and Russian.

Requirement to abstracts

  • The abstract should be written in accordance with the official requirements of the AIDS Conference.
  • The draft abstract should be written in Russian or English.
  • The content of the abstract should be in line with one of the conference scientific tracks. The scientific track must be specified under the heading of the abstract.
  • There is a maximum of two abstracts per applicant.
  • Those applicants who want to receive language support either the translation into Russian, or editing of the English abstract, will have to submit a short motivation letter to explain why they need such support.

Confidentiality

AFEW International, EHRA and Amsterdam Youth Force form a Steering Committee and the secretariat of the EECA Abstract support project. Only people designated to serve within Steering Committee and the secretariat and the reviewers assigned to each abstract will have access to the abstract submissions as well as the contact details of the applicants. We will not release any information on who has received assistance for their submissions at any point unless we have consent to do so.

Useful resources

  1. Abstract writing module available in Russian and English

An Abstract writing module is developed in collaboration with the International AIDS Society (IAS) – the organizer of the AIDS conferences, and written by editors of the Journal of the International AIDS Society, an open-access platform for essential and innovative HIV/AIDS research. It is available for everybody in English and translated into Russian by AFEW International.

  1. Online training on abstract writing

AFEW International has conducted a training on community based participatory research and abstract writing. This training was steamed live and records as well as hand outs and presentations are available in Russian here:

Abstract writing: structure, review criteria, submission tips

Good abstract title

On the road to AIDS2018: practical guide

Presentations and handouts (downloadable, please scroll down)

If you want to receive English presentations and handouts, please refer to the email address below.

  1. Tips and trick on how to write a good abstract.

AIDS2018: Preparing for registration and submitting abstracts. An Article was written by a young researchers Anna Tokar, in Russian is available here, and in English here

You can follow us on http://www.AFEW.org/aids2018eeca/ and https://www.facebook.com/AFEWInternational/ for all the updates on the available resources and opportunities.

On the Barricades of Harm Reduction in Georgia

Author: Irma Kakhurashvili, Georgia

In Georgia, there are not many organisations working with people who use drugs to improve their health and re-integrate them into the society. New Vector is the first self-organisation of drug users not only in Georgia, but also in the South Caucasus. Since 2006, its activists openly oppose the repressive drug policy, fight for the rights of people who use drugs (PWUD), and search for the innovative approaches to resolve health problems. The main goal of the New Vector is to provide harm reduction services and advocate for the health and social programmes, which are vital for people who use drugs.

In the organisation, drug users are offered free fibroscan liver tests and dentist’s services. Besides, workshops for community members are often held. Every Friday is a woman’s day. Female drug users attend sewing and needlework classes. Since 2016, the organisation also actively provides new services – with mobile clinics, activists and social workers of the organisation test drug users and general population for hepatitis C and HIV both in the capital of Georgia and in the regions.

Staying until the issues are resolved

The New Vector takes part in reforming and humanizing the national drug policy. Several years ago, the Georgian Network of People Who Use Drugs (GeNPUD) was founded at the initiative of the organisation. Through the joint efforts of GeNPUD, different NGOs and activists, amendments were introduced in the law requiring health personnel to call police in case of an overdose. Besides, GeNPUD carried out advocacy activities to exercise the right of drug users to refuse compulsory testing in drug departments of the police granted by article 42 of the Constitution. As a result of the campaigns initiated by the activists of GeNPUD and New Vector, the state ensured access to high-cost new-generation drugs for Hepatitis C treatment in Georgia.

The New Vector holds its position of the leading organisation in the provision of social and prevention services in the area of harm reduction.

“As for HIV/AIDS prevention, for many years we have been implementing harm reduction programmes – syringe and needle exchange. Every day, our social workers go “in the field” and offer sterile syringes and other supplies to people who use drugs. As far as I know, currently there are 6,564 cases of HIV registered in Georgia, with people who inject drugs accounting for 43.2% of such cases,” the head of the New Vector Koka Labartkava is saying. “Last year, when conducting testing in the New Vector we detected 10 cases of HIV, this year we recorded seven cases. If a client has HIV, our social workers assist him in finding specialists and programmes to solve his problems. We stay with our clients until their issues are resolved. In addition to the mobile clinics, drug users can also get tested for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis in our laboratory, right here in the office.”

Problem detected first step to the solution

The Project “Supporting patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis, taking measures to improve treatment” implemented in five regions of Georgia will be operating as a pilot for 10 months. The Project was launched on 1 July 2017 and, if it proves to be successful, it will be expanded all over the country. The project management team conducted preparatory activities in five cities of Georgia: Tbilisi, Rustavi, Gori, Kutaisi, and Batumi. Multidisciplinary teams have already been formed to include a social worker, a peer consultant and a psychologist. Altogether, six groups have been created, and two of them are in Tbilisi.

The support team (a social worker, a psychologist and a peer consultant) offer individual and group psychosocial counselling, assistance in solving social problems, psychological and legal consultations, counselling and testing for hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis.

In September and October this year, the Georgian Network of People who Use Drugs organized information and advocacy sessions for people who use drugs, including those who have HIV and tuberculosis, as well as for different civil society organisations.

The aim of such sessions was to assist the community in defining the challenges and the barriers in terms of access to HIV/AIDS and TB treatment and prevention programmes and in terms of their quality. The sessions allowed defining the gaps at local, national and international levels. Action plans and advocacy tools will soon be defined in relation to each of the gaps.

The New Vector has close partner relations with Tanadgoma within the Task Force City project, stipulating allocation of municipal budget funds for the implementation of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis prevention programmes. One of the conditions to ensure the effective distribution of resources and developing a municipal public health strategy is for the Mayor of Tbilisi to sign the Paris Declaration‑2014.