Uzbekistan’s Aids shame
HIV infections are on the rise, yet activist Maxim Popov has been given a seven-year jail sentence for his prevention work. In Uzbekistan it seems that promoting condoms and sterile needles to stop the spread of HIV is “immoral” and deserving of imprisonment in its notorious jails. The country, ruled by dictator Islam Karimov – and recently lambasted by the UN Human Rights Committee – has given one of its leading Aids workers a seven-year sentence.
Maxim Popov is the founder of the now-closed non-governmental Aids organisation, Izis. The group had support from international donors including USAid and the British government’s Department for International Development (DfID).
Publications used worldwide in sexual health promotion got him into trouble with the dictatorship. They included HIV and Aids Today, a brochure that discusses the use of condoms in HIV prevention, the need for sterile needles for injecting drug users, and education on HIV prevention within same-sex relations; a UNAids brochure, HIV and Men who have Sex with Men in Asia and the Pacific and a textbook, Healthy Lifestyles, the Guidance for Teachers, published in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan with international funding.
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