Freelance journalist

Winner Freelance journalist

A cross-border investigation examining eastern Europe’s dramatic rise in HIV, which is poised to further increase due to economic crisis and political conflict.

Globally HIV is in decline, yet parts of southeast Europe and Russia are witnessing the fastest growth of new HIV cases of any region in the world.This year HIV is set to plague Ukraine and Russia, as risky behavior is likely to be exacerbated by fall-out from warfare, plunging currencies and rising inflation.Surrounding countries are also witnessing the HIV scourge advance, with Turkey and Bulgaria seeing their highest-ever numbers of new cases.

The series looks at the wider picture of this regional threat, with new data analysis, enlightening info-graphics and expert interviews detailing why this problem has reached its most critical point in the greater Black Sea area since the advent of the virus in the 1980s.
But the series also takes time to listen to the carriers of HIV and gives them space to describe their lives.
This includes in-depth testimonies of HIV carriers from Ukraine, Moldova and Romania, revealing how they found hope and consolation after receiving despairing news.
Also we will publish a feature on women HIV drug users from Moldova and Ukraine, who have ignored medical recommendations to abort their fetuses. These stories show a cynical and corrupt healthcare system stricken with prejudice, but also a defiance among a disenfranchised community, who have been able to assert their individual rights.

Project by Michael Bird


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