The project, supported as part of the Foundation’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Key Populations Fund, is being implemented from September 2018 to October 2021.
LaSky aims to provide services to over 30,000 people in Moscow City and Moscow Region from Key Populations, including LGBT individuals, people who inject drugs, and sex workers. The project is conducting outreach activities, HIV testing and counselling, creating demand for self-testing and PrEP, and peer support groups for LGBT living with HIV. The central location of LaSky’s offices in Moscow, and targeted advocacy activities aim to increase the impact of the programme by positioning it as a model example for others to follow.
In March 2019, Misha started feeling unwell so he came to LaSky to get tested for HIV. When he found out his positive result, he watched Bohemian Rhapsody and cried for two days. But on the third day, he decided to learn to live with HIV. After receiving support from LaSky through the Moscow Lighthouse project, he is now training to join the project staff. Misha wants to work at Lasky to help people be better informed as HIV awareness is so low – Misha still encounters people who think HIV can be transmitted by shaking hands. That’s why Misha now helps to lead LaSky’s weekly peer support group for LGBT people who are living with HIV, to encourage others to live without shame.
Sasha, 31 years old
Sasha is 31 years old, originally from Voronezh, Russia, and now lives in Moscow. In 2008 Sasha was in hospital with the flu, and doctors performed various tests on him. Sasha tested positive for HIV, but shockingly, he was not told about his status by the hospital. Fast forward to 2014 and Sasha had become very sick. After many painful diagnostic tests, when Sasha was finally admitted to hospital, he discovered that he had been on the HIV register for six years but was never informed about his diagnosis. Sasha was in a very advanced stage of HIV at this point, with a CD4 count of just 42. He weighed just 36 kilograms and couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without holding onto the walls.