07.07.2009. US First Lady Michelle Obama visited the St. Dimitry Sisterhood and Medical Nurses College in Moscow
US First Lady Michelle Obama visited the St. Dimitry Sisterhood Medical Nurses College in Moscow, which conducts a special HIV-positive people care programme. The first lady noted that information and education work with the population on HIV/AIDS related issues has enormous value, since many people do not know how to handle HIV-positive people.
The college, created in 1992, is the only orthodox medical educational institution in Russia. In particular, pupils of the college are trained for the care of HIV-positive and patients with AIDS. The development of this programme was partially financed by USAID and implemented by the UN Development Programme jointly with the Russian Federal Service on Surveillance of Consumer Rights and Human Well-Being. Representatives of sisterhoods in 10 cities of Russia have taken part in the programme.
The programme is part of a larger UNDP project funded by USAID. It is aimed to contribute to the decrease in HIV and AIDS incidence in the Russian Federation and mitigate the impact of the epidemic on the population by involving Russian Orthodox Church and other confessions significantly present in Russia in the prevention of the spread of the epidemic, reduction of stigma and discrimination, and provision of care and support to people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) and other affected population.
Sister Olga, Project coordinator, emphasized that more and more people, including young people and children, need this kind of support. “Our sisters are helping families with HIV-positive members and HIV-positive children living in Orphanages,” she said. Ms. Obama shared her experience of working in the hospital and dealing with volunteers and highlighted that this work is extremely important for people.
In the framework of the project, a new full-day course on HIV/AIDS and HIV-positive people care was developed and introduced into the programme of the college. “There is only one lesson for 45-min on HIV/AIDS in current medical colleagues programme, but with today’s situation the need is much much bigger,” said sister Olga.
The HIV epidemic in the Russian Federation continues to grow, though not as rapidly as in late 1990s. The annual number of newly registered HIV cases declined between 2001 and 2003 (from a peak of 87 000 to 34 000), but has risen again subsequently. In 2007, 42770 new HIV cases were officially recorded, bringing the total number of HIV cases registered in the Russian Federation to about 416,113.
According to the latest official statistics of the Federal AIDS Centre of the Russian Federation as of January 01 2009, there are 469,016 HIV cases registered in Russia among country citizens. (http://hivrussia.ru, www.undp.ru )
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