Round Table on Participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Preventing and Overcoming the Spread of HIV/AIDS

A Round Table on the Participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in Preventing and Overcoming the Spread of HIV/AIDS took place on January 25, 2012, at the Department for External Church Relations. Organized within the 20th International Educational Christmas Readings, it was attended by some 40 clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church working in the area of HIV-AIDS prevention, members of the Church agains-AIDS Network, and representatives of governmental, international and public organizations.

The participants heard reports on the topic and discussed problems involved in the pastoral care of people living with HIV/AIDS as those encountered in some dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church including the dioceses of Moscow, St Petersburg, Orenburg, Bryansk and others. They were introduced to the work of church resources centers for the psychological counselling and rehabilitation of HIV-positive drug users.

Opening the meeting, Archpriest Dimitry Sizonenko said that for many years the Department for External Church Relations held round-table conferences on HIV-AIDS within the Christmas Readings as an occasion which enables representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church from various dioceses and workers at public and governmental organizations to discuss together pressing problems and to find ways of cooperation.

With great attention the participants heard the report of Mr A. Goliusov, head of the HIV/AIDS prevention department of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare, who spoke in particular about the scale of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia.

Ms M. Nelyubova, leader of the Russia Round Table, presented the Project for Supporting Initiatives of Religious Organizations in Opposing HIV/AIDS Epidemic and Palliative Aid in the Russian Federation. In implementing this project, a considerable experience has been accumulated in giving aid to people affected by HIV, in preventing deviant behaviours among children and youth and in offering rehabilitation to drug users.

Ms O. Yegorova, senior nurse of the Home Care Service of the St. Dimitry Sisterhood in Moscow and director of the Resource Center for Palliative Care for People Living with HIV/AIDS, presented an electronic database which includes information and methodology publications, educational video-aids and other materials prepared in the course of the project implementation.

Ms Ye. Rydalevskaya, director of the Diakonia Charity in St. Petersburg, presented a master class under the program for preventing risk behaviours and socially dangerous diseases ‘Way to Home’. It is a program intended for young people of university age, and one of its tasks is to prepare young people for a responsible understanding of their role as parents to be.

Fr. Mefody Kondratyev, director of the coordinating center for the church rehabilitation of narcotic dependencies under the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for Charity and Social Service, dealt in his report with problems of the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Mr I. Piskarev, Diakonia program director, related his charity’s experience in preventing HIV through the comprehensive rehabilitation of drug users according to the case management methods.

The participants showed great interest in the remarks of Ms L. Krasnikov about palliative aid given to people living with HIV by the sisterhood of the Church of All Saints Who Shone Forth in the Russian Land in Rostov-on-Don.

During the work of the round table, participants stated with satisfaction a growth in the professional level of the church work for preventing and combatting HIV/AIDS.

Based on the materials of the DECR Communication Service