What is it about?

This article analyses two individual cases of social activists in Azerbaijan and Lithuania who pioneered a movement towards reducing the stigma and developing the social and medical care for people with HIV. Both activists were HIV positive themselves and have advocated for their rights within resource-limited settings. The article provides a discussion of the historical background of both countries and draws conclusions based on the qualitative analysis of three main topics: stigma, social work, and social activism.

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Why is it important?

The article contributes to the very scarce literature on post-Soviet states by providing both the most recent literature overviews as well as the progress made in the field of HIV/AIDS care in both countries during the last decade. It calls for immediate policy changes in both states and articulates different ways in which people living with HIV in Azerbaijan and Lithuania are deprived from the necessary care and protection.


The main perspective here is to bring forward the importance of individual advocacy and the role of an individual person within a larger context. By focusing on only two cases, the article provides an in-depth analysis of the challenges as well as possibilities that were experiences by two people in conservative societies. Their activism in promoting the needs of HIV positive people are discussed against the background of self-stigmatization, social exclusion, and neglect both on the political and healthcare dimensions.

Aysel Sultan
Goethe-Universitat Frankfurt am Main

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Living with HIV in post-Soviet states: Rejecting individual stigma through social activism, International Social Work, July 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0020872819858746.
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