Russia and Rights


In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the HIV epidemic is exploding. This is largely driven by the sharing of used drug injection equipment, among other factors. Russia’s transcontinental location, and the fact that severe human rights abuses against marginalized populations are both normalized and sanctioned in the country, make it an important region to focus our efforts.

Sweeping legal and policy reforms are needed. In Russia, poorly drafted laws are abusively enforced with little regard for human rights. Discriminatory policies and practices continue to fuel the spread of HIV by targeting those least able to defend themselves. And although Russia has signed on to many international human rights laws and declarations, these promises continue to be hollow at best — and completely perverted at worst. The invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022 has exacerbated human rights concerns, particularly around access to medications and health supports for people living with HIV.

We work in tandem with our Russian and regional partners to supply individuals — and the organizations that support them — with the knowledge and tools they need to defend human rights and prevent new HIV infections. But our reach is much broader than any one case. We are shifting the discourse around human rights one person at a time, wherever possible adapting individual successes to a variety of national, regional, and international interventions for far-reaching reform.

We focus on the unjust punishment of people who use drugs in Russia and the surrounding region, on securing equitable access to life-saving health services for this same community, and on ending the persistent stigma and discrimination they endure. But we are profoundly aware that, in Russia, human rights abuses and vulnerability to HIV are a part of a systemic problem that affects many other groups — women, sex workers, LGBTQ+ communities, and many others — and our work is ever-expanding to respond to their concerns.

We use a range of different strategies to effect regional change. We bring landmark cases before the courts. We build strong coalitions among like-minded non-governmental organizations. We advocate wherever a platform exists and document our efforts using many different communications platforms: And we work directly with people who use drugs as part of an innovative “street lawyers” program that puts the power to defend human rights directly into the hands of those most affected.

To find out more about this work you can visit the website of our partner organization, the Andrey Rylkov Foundation.

О миссии, видении и ценности Канадской правовой сети по ВИЧ\СПИД.

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Practical applications of Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus

Article 157 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus criminalizes HIV exposure and transmission. Despite a reduction in the number of criminal cases brought under this article, Belarus remains among the world’s leading countries in prosecutions of people living with HIV. Russian Version

The Most Vulnerable Suffer: Access to social and medical assistance for people living with HIV and disabilities

The Access to social and medical services for persons with disabilities living with HIV study was carried out in May and June 2022 with the objective of identifying barriers and complexities for people living with HIV and disabilities in Russia during the coronavirus pandemic and at the outset of the war in Ukraine. Russian version:

Rights Within Reach: Strategic Plan 2022-2027

The HIV Legal Network promotes the human rights of people living with HIV or AIDS and other populations disproportionately affected by HIV and criminalization, in Canada and internationally. In 2021, we undertook a planning process that would shape the strategic goals and priorities for the organization’s next five years (2022-2027). To do this, we sought … Read more

Rights Within Reach: Strategic Plan 2022-2027, Executive Summary

In 2021, the HIV Legal Network undertook a planning process that would shape the strategic goals and priorities for the organization’s next five years (2022-2027). To do this, we sought the input of a broad range of stakeholders, from partner organizations to people living with and affected by HIV and criminalization, to staff. All identified … Read more

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Toronto, ON (April 25, 2023) — This year, the HIV Legal Network celebrates its 30th anniversary. Founded in December 1992 as the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the organization has spent the past three decades advocating to protect the human rights of all people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS, as well as those … Read more

HIV Legal Network Statement on Ukraine Invasion by Russia

We are deeply shaken by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We are also compelled to speak up because this is an area of the world in which we at the HIV Legal Network work, a region where the HIV pandemic rages on.   The devastating occupation of Ukraine has enormous impacts on our work and … Read more

MEDIA RELEASE: International Conference on cannabis in Kyrgyz Republic

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CANNABIS IN KYRGYZ REPUBLIC FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Will Kyrgyz Republic win the war on poverty through the use of industrial hemp, medical and recreational cannabis? Professor Nazaraliev will discuss this topic with the world’s top experts. The first international conference on the legalization of cannabis and its derivatives in Kyrgyz Republic will … Read more

Joint Statement of Civil Society Organizations in advance of the Thirty-Ninth Meeting of the Global Fund Board

“On the 9th – 10th of May 2018, the Global Fund’s Board will consider revisions to the Fund’s Eligibility Policy based upon recommendations from its Strategy Committee. While some of these recommendations are positive, others raise serious concerns. By this Statement we – the organizations representing civil society and including communities of people living with … Read more

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