The Channels of Hope training programme has opened doors in a prison for a participant from Belarus.
“In Belarus HIV-infected people are very closed about their HIV status and it is difficult to talk with them about their status and their problems. It is even worse for prisoners who are infected. They automatically become outcasts, in jail information instantly spreads! “But, thank God, I have an open door to do HIV prevention work among the prisoners. It is a high security mens’ prison for dangerous criminals, many have been convicted for the use and distribution of drugs.
“Many of the prisoners are serving life sentences. Others have terms ranging from 10 to 20 years. There is great ignorance around HIV and its transmission. This aggravates the condition of HIV-infected prisoners. Some try to commit suicide.
“We have an agreement with the authorities to conduct systematic meetings with the prisoners about HIV prevention and suicide.
“We also plan to work with people who are released. We want to help them build relationships with their families, get a job and get on the road to recovery.
“In addition, we are launching a youth discussion club “High Voltage!” This is for youth whose parents are in prison or have been deprived of parental rights. These kind of children are at high risk for HIV. Over the next year a group of 20 will go through the programme.
“Thank God for the knowledge and skills that we acquired in the training! They are very helpful in our work!”