Response stories

Seeking support: a woman living with HIV seeks help from REActors in Tajikistan

Zaira (name changed), a 28-year-old woman living with HIV, approached the national REActors on the recommendation of a friend who had heard about their work through social media. The friend said that all services, including legal counseling, were free of charge.

In 2021, Zaira and her friends went to Russia to earn money. She got a job in a bakery and at the same time prepared documents and took the necessary tests. A few days later, she was called to work and informed that she had HIV and was asked to leave the workplace. Zaira planned to go home, but instead, she moved to another city and started working illegally, not believing in her diagnosis.

In the end of 2023, while returning to N, she was told at the airport in Russia that she was deported for life. This news greatly upset Zaira. She shared her situation with a friend who advised her to contact REActor to consult with a lawyer.

After the woman told her story, the REActor provided her with psycho-emotional support and explained what the organization does and what services are provided. She also talked about HIV and AIDS, how the virus is transmitted, and the legal and psychological services available.

The REActor explained to Zaira that she had violated Russian law by not leaving the country promptly and was working illegally, which could have influenced the decision to deport her for life. She also noted that working in a bakery, where there is contact with sharp and cutting objects, could have put herself and others at risk.

The REActor then brought in a lawyer who discussed her legal situation with Zaira. He explained in detail that according to Russian law, migrant workers living with HIV cannot work or stay in Russia. Although this information upset the woman, she expressed her gratitude for the counseling and understanding of the situation. Zaira was also offered further psychological support and possible ways to resolve legal issues related to her status and future employment.

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