In IAS EECA meeting in Tbilisi on June 20th, Tetyana Deshko, of Альянс громадського здоров’я Alliance for Public Health spoke about ways to engage with cities to reduce stigma towards key populations, based on Fast-track TB/HIV responses for key populations in EECA cities project experience.

According to her, this is what worked:
• Paris declarations contain concrete commitment to reduce stigma towards key populations and appeared to be good tools to fight stigma;
• KPs must be part of city coordination groups, this way they have the network and trust to respond to critical cases;
• it is important to have low threshold system of legal support for reacting in city. In 2018 Fast-track cities project in 5 cities dealt with over 400 cases of human rights violations.

She also mentioned ReACT, a tool to quickly record and link the case to reactor. It should be as low threshold as possible. 24/7, immediate reaction. ReACT is planned to be rolled out in SoS_project, in Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Broader regional work on violations of human rights of KPs is important and it is done by regional KP networks.

We should work to change minds about key populations, high level charismatic and trusted individuals speaking for KPs – EECA regional commission on drug policy is needed to stand behind every drug user in the region and shape public opinion.

Tetiana ended by saying: ‘Mayors should be taking the lead. They are pragmatic and less political. When Mayor Kaladze stands for the rights of Tbilisi LGBT community, which is by the way preparing for gay pride this weekend, then we will see the end of AIDS in Tbilisi’.