Tanya in the Trust Room, Chernigiv AIDS Centre

Tanya has the unenviable job of letting people know the results of their HIV tests. This is the room where she tells them, called the 'Trust Room'. Because of discrimination against people with HIV, people lose their jobs, can be ostracised from society, and even lose access to social services such as healthcare if news of a positive status leaks - so the testing and the results have to be confidential. "Here in this Trust Room I conduct before and after testing consultations. Anyone who wants to can come here and be tested – either anonymously or in their own name...

The most important thing is to tell them what HIV infection is, the means of transmission and prevention. I recommend taking a test for HIV, as it is extremely important to know one’s status so as to take treatment at the early stages. Sometimes 15-20 people come every day. Some come also for post-test consultation.

It’s difficult when someone received a positive diagnosis. It’s difficult when a person realises that he/she is HIV positive and must fight it. The most important thing is to explain that life carries on. So that they don’t withdraw into themselves. To find a person who could give support.

It’s very difficult for yourself, you yourself live through it with that person. On the one hand, you feel sorry for them, on the other you try to make sure that they keep going. My first patient was a girl. Of course it was difficult. She was of my own age – young."