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Public Service Announcement "Touch" Has Changed Yana Panfilova's Life

Almost a year has passed from the date of carrying out a social experiment "I have HIV. Embrace, support" with Yana Panfilova in the lead role. A lot of things have changed since then, but there is still much to be done in fight against the long held assumptions about HIV in society.
Yana – is very strong person who isn't afraid to throw down a challenge to public opinion and, thanks to such strength of mind and confidence everything becomes possible. It's only a matter of time :)
We share an interview of Yana, about the made experiment:
My 18th birthday has begun not really successfully: those friends from whom I waited for congratulations first of all haven't congratulated, in the morning I should go to children's hospital "Ohmatdyt", and then run for work. And what is more, on my birthday I was going and choosing gifts to other people, that was (really) something! And I was not in the mood to party, but on the way to office my friend called me and has begun quickly, loudly, cheerfully to tell something -congratulate. At first I don’t understand anything, there was much information and emotions. In 10 seconds I have realized — video with my participation already in network — on a page Facebook of Forbes publishing house! I was very glad. And it was the coolest gift for birthday!
After that there are a thousand questions: at first at work, then on social networks from friends and strangers in general. Therefore, I have decided to answer all questions in an interview for the East Europe and Central Asia Union of PLWH (EECA of PLWH) in Secretariat of which I am working.
Yana, tell, please, when and who had come up idea of a video?
In the summer Evgenia Smirnova called me from the Small Heart with Art project (they help HIV-positive and AIDS-infected children) and has offered to shoot in a video - a social experiment. It was necessary to stand in the center of Kyiv with the plate "I have HIV. Embrace, support" and to observe reaction of passers-by. Everything, of course, was filmed with the camera. The idea was we wanted to draw attention of people to HIV/AIDS among children and teenagers, to check the attitude of Kyiv residents to the HIV-positive person. And it is always interesting to look at reaction of people!
To stand in the center of Kyiv with the plate "I have HIV. Embrace, support" is not easy. How have you agreed to such step?
If we say that HIV is not a problem, but an usual chronic disease, then a question of fear and shame disappears by itself. Now in Ukraine it is widely accepted that HIV-positive people are discriminated. I wanted to show a real situation in my example. I have agreed at once without thinking, it didn't cause discomfort for me, probably even some interest has appeared. I've always wanted to try in a performance.
How long did you stand and were you afraid of negative reaction of people around?
I stood about 3 hours. Imagine, peak of an intolerable heat, and you are here all positive ☺ I wasn't afraid, otherwise, I haven't agreed. Perhaps, this advantage teenage years when people love risk and aren't afraid of anything. (laughs). I have been sure that someone will exactly come to me.
And did you expect that so many people will be? By the way, how many people came up to you and have embraced?
I didn't count exactly, I think, more than 100. When I stood, I looked for eyes of people which perhaps could come up to me, and the most of them came.
What have you heard the most pleasant from people who embraced you.
And you expected, what is a lot of? By the way, how many people have approached you and have embraced?
I yes sir didn't consider, I think, more than 100. When I stood, I looked for eyes of people which perhaps could approach me, and the majority from them approached.
What have you heard the most pleasant from people who embraced you?
Smile more often, love to you, you are very courageous. Many people said that I'll be okay. Someone gave flowers, someone else some small gifts. All of them tried to support somehow, and they achieved this!)
Who do you remember most of all?
When two girls who have presented flowers came up to me, one of them cried. However, it isn't visible on video. She has told me that I have touched her very much, then they have embraced me and have wished me to be strong and not to be upset. I remember elderly woman very much, she was only (probably, in the park there were few elderly women).
What did you feel?
Oh, I had different feelings. Of course, it was pleasant to me, sometimes I didn't understand what happened, felt joy, heat, small fatigue. I didn't expect that so many people will come up me. At the end of all action I have understood that people are very sympathetic, open and friendly. I hope that with my team we could show a small part of tolerant society to HIV-positive people in Kyiv.
Already there are more than one million viewings a video. You are already recognized, probably, on the street?
Yes, is it more than one million? Frankly speaking, I didn't expect such number of viewings. I thought: nearly 100 thousand will be. Already there was a case when I was recognized. I will tell the most striking example. I have come to my favorite cafe in which I very often go to, and the waitress came up to me and told: "I saw you on video that evening when this video was uploaded. It was great when I watched this video, the thought has slipped: yes I know this girl! So, keep it, continue to change this world to the best! And then she embraced me on 5minutes ". It was very lovely.


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