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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

AIDS/ HIV Center Opens

Russia's first non-governmental resource center to help people with AIDS and the HIV virus opened Monday.

The AESOP center, whose name is an acronym for An Effective Shield of Prevention, was praised by Anatoly Solovyov, head of the Moscow City Health Department.

"Since the problem of AIDS is a serious and a widespread one, it is very important that organizations take part in the campaign," he said.

The opening ceremony was attended by more than 100 activists and representatives of Moscow's gay community. The hall was decorated with memorial patchwork quilts dedicated by friends of those who have died of AIDS. Condoms were freely available.

"The main mission of the AESOP center is to carry the message of the necessity of safe sex," said Irina Savelyeva, the center's co-founder.

According to Mikhail Narkevich, head of the national anti-AIDS program, government statistics show that 714 Russians are HIV positive and 128 of them suffer from AIDS.